Changes to the Consumer Contracts Regulations – What installers need to know

Changes to how contracts have to be agreed between traders and customers could have far-reaching consequences for your business. Installer spoke to Which? Trusted Traders about the ‘need-to-know’ facts to ensure everything is done correctly.
Knowing your rights webThe new regulations about how traders agree contracts with their customers are significant for both parties. The updates relate to selling goods online, or what’s known as distance selling, as well as traders who carry out home improvement works or repairs for householders.
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 have been in place since June 2014, so make sure you know the new rules right away.
What are the changes to Consumer Contracts Regulation?
The main changes arising from the new regulations are as follows:
• The customer’s right to cancel period has gone up from 7 days to 14 days
• Extra information on contracts now has to be provided to customers
• A new type of cancellation form should be used.
If traders do not adhere to these new regulations, they may not get paid for their work. They could even be committing a criminal offence.
What information do customers need to be given?
Under the new regulations, when you are away from your business premises and the cost of the service provided is over £42, you must give detailed information to the consumer including:
• the main characteristics of the goods or services that you are providing;
• your identity/trading name;
• your contact details, including the address where any consumer complaints should be sent;
• your complaint handling policy.
How must the information be given?
The information must be given on paper or, if the consumer has agreed, on another ‘durable medium’ such as email. It must be given before a contract has been agreed and must be clear, comprehensible and legible.
Once a contract has been agreed with the consumer, a signed copy or confirmation of the contract (on paper, email, etc) must be provided. This contract – or confirmation of the contract – must be given no later than when goods are delivered or service starts.
What is the cancellation period?
The cancellation period for contracts has risen to 14 days after the day on which the contract was made. If consumers are not given information about their right to cancel, their cancellation period extends to 14 days after this is first provided.
Remember, if you don’t provide this information you may be committing a criminal offence. Consumers can use any clear statement to inform of their intention to cancel the contract within the 14-day period.
What happens if a cancellation notice is received?
If a consumer exercises their right to cancel, both your and their obligations under the contract are ended. In addition, the consumer should be reimbursed what they have paid within 14 days from the day after notification of this decision has been received.
What if a service has been supplied within the cancellation period?
Contracts can be started within the cancellation period, but if the consumer then cancels, they must have clearly requested the cancellation through a ‘durable medium’ (email or in writing).
A customer loses their right to cancel a contract that has been performed fully within the cancellation period, provided they requested these works and acknowledged they would lose their right to cancel once the contract had been completed.
What if the service was not fully performed?
If a contract has been started within the cancellation period at their request, but not completed, the consumer still has the right to cancel. The consumer will have to pay for the service used during the time up to when they gave notification of their cancellation.
However, the customer will not have to pay for services supplied in the cancellation period if the service provider did not provide them with the necessary information on how to cancel and their obligations.
The consumer does not have to pay if they have not expressly requested work to start within the cancellation period.
More info
More can also be found out online by visiting www.tradingstandards.gov.uk and www.bis.gov.uk. Which? recommends you download and read the information you need to give to consumers – including the Model Cancellation Form – in this easy-to-understand guide by Which? Trusted Traders: www.which.co.uk/documents/pdf/know_the_rules-369544.pdf
[author image=”https://www.installeronline.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Whichlogo.jpg” ]Which? Trusted Traders is an endorsement scheme that recognises reputable traders who successfully pass an assessment process. Being awarded Which? Trusted trader status helps traders to stand out from the crowd. Which? Trusted Traders also enables consumers to find the best local traders in their area.[/author]