Presentation on theme: "NCA guide for businesses Selling via a website An overview of the key rules if you sell online to consumers."— Presentation transcript:
NCA guide for businesses Selling via a website An overview of the key rules if you sell online to consumers
Selling online to consumers Do you sell products or services to consumers through a website? If you do, no matter how big or small your site, you must meet certain legal obligations These rules apply whether you are a large established company or just starting out
The obligations include… 1.General requirements under consumer law 2.Distance selling rules 3.eCommerce regulations 4.Data protection 5.Corporate compliance
General requirements of consumer law Under consumer law: Products or services for sale must be of a certain standard What you say about them must be true You must treat consumers fairly In Ireland, these general requirements are contained in the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act and the Consumer Protection Act
Distance selling Specific rules also apply to "distance selling” This is where you take orders remotely from consumers (rather than face-to-face in a shop, office, market etc) Distance selling includes sales via your website, email, phone or fax
EU's distance selling rules The distance selling regulations: Apply to business-to-consumer transactions (but not business-to-business) Specify certain information you must give consumers before the contract is enforceable Allow consumers to cancel orders within a specific period, and require you to inform them how they can do this
In a nutshell… …these rules give consumers additional protection on top of general consumer law Your customers do not need to be given a physical agreement on paper to have a distance contract with you
Information requirements Your ordering and delivery process must give visitors key information about: Your business Their order The delivery costs involved How to cancel
The cooling off period #1 In a physical shop… consumers don’t get an automatic “cooling off” period after buying goods/services In online sales… a cooling off period for consumers is a major requirement
The cooling off period #2 During the cooling off period your customers can cancel their orders – without a reason You must give them a "cooling off" period of at least seven working days You also have obligations in situations where ordered goods/services are unavailable
Some goods and services are exempt The cooling off period does not apply to: Customised products (e.g. T-shirt with customer’s personal slogan on it) Perishable goods Accommodation (hotels, guesthouses etc) for specific dates
EU’s eCommerce regulations Under eCommerce regulations you must give further specific information to customers Some goods and services are excluded from the distance selling regulations, but the eCommerce regulations may still apply For information requirements, see guides on NCA.ie
Data Protection Act Your site will need a privacy statement if you collect personal data such as… In order forms, feedback forms etc Using cookies or other tracking Users’ IP or email addresses See Data Protection Commissioner’s site for details
Spam and unsolicited calls Your staff have legal responsibilities in terms of “spam” – sending emails, text messages or direct marketing phone calls to people who: Are not already your customers or Have not consented to be contacted by you in this way
Maximum penalties for spam €50,000 for an individual €250,000 or 10% of turnover for a body corporate
Corporate compliance Under Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement rules, limited companies must give certain information on websites and in order forms (including ones sent by email): Your company name Company registration number Registered office
Company registration details Many websites give "footer" links at the bottom of their pages to a "Legal Information" or "Company Registration" type page with this corporate information You don’t need to meet these requirements if you are a sole trader But it is still good practice to reassure potential customers about your business status
Checklist for your online shop Check whether your website meets the following five requirements…
1. Does it provide key information before and during the ordering process, such as a geographical address?
2. Does it give customers the option to cancel an order - and information on how to do this?
3. Does it meet data protection requirements about the personal data you collect, how you use/store it? Do your staff know the dangers of sending spam?