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111/06 6 July 2006
In response to concerns raised by the OFT, Dell Corporation Ltd will change its terms and conditions to make them fairer to consumers.
The OFT identified a number of terms that it considered to be inconsistent with the requirements of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 or The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 and therefore unsuitable for use in consumer contracts.
The on-line retailer of computers, software and IT services cooperated with the OFT and has agreed to improve the transparency of its agreements with consumers and to take steps to address the OFT's concerns, including separating terms applicable to consumers from terms relevant to business customers only and changing terms that potentially:
Christine Wade, OFT Director of Consumer Regulation Enforcement said:
'Distance selling, be that by mail, phone or the internet, does not exclude businesses from ensuring their contracts are fair to consumers and compatible with the law. I'm pleased that Dell has worked with the OFT to modify important aspects of its terms and conditions, such as those relating to time of delivery and liability for faulty goods, in the light of the OFT's concerns.'
To help distance sales businesses ensure their terms and conditions comply with the relevant regulations, the OFT has published specific guidance. Download IT consumer contracts made at a distance: Guidance on compliance with the Distance Selling and Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations (pdf 546 kb).
1. Dell Corporation Ltd (Dell) - registered office is Milbanke House, Western Road, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 1RD.
2. The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 apply to standard contract terms used with consumers. The UTCCRs protect consumers against unfair standard terms in contracts they make with traders. The OFT, and certain other bodies, can take legal action to prevent the use of potentially unfair terms. A term is likely to be considered unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations under the contract, to the detriment of consumers. The regulations say that a consumer is not bound by a standard term in a contract with a trader if that term is unfair. Ultimately, only a court can decide whether a term is unfair.
3. The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, commonly referred to as the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs), came into force on 31 October 2000 (amended with effect from 6 April 2005 by The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) (Amendment) Regulations 2005). The DSRs give additional rights to consumers in the area of home shopping (where transactions take place under an organised scheme for distance selling run by the supplier with no face to face contact up to and including the moment at which the contract is concluded, such as online sales, mail order and telesales). Under the DSRs consumers have specific rights including rights to: clear information, a cancellation period and further protection against fraudulent use of payment cards.
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