Specifying your Terms and Conditions of Sale

This might seem tedious, but it is very important! Carefully specifying your Tems and Conditions of Sale is absolutely necessary if you are not to fall foul of the relevant laws and receive a visit from the nice people at your local Trading Standards!

The legislation that you must comply with when selling in the EU is multitudinous, but the most notable are the Consumer Contracts Regulations.  These are the rules that apply if you are selling products or services to consumers without face-to-face contact, and where the consumer has not had an opportunity to examine the goods before buying, or to discuss a service in person. 

You can see some information on the detail that must be included in your terms and conditions on these tabs.

We will provide you with a draft set of Terms & Conditions that address all the key areas.  

It will be your responsibility to tailor these to ensure that they meet your business needs.

In order to comply with the relevant law you must give your consumers certain information before they agree to buy from you, which includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • sufficient detail for the consumer to be able to identify the business they are dealing with,
  • a description of the main characteristics of the goods or services you are offering,
  • the price of the goods or services you are offering, including all taxes (retail sales prices must always be displayed including VAT) and how long the price or the offer remains valid,
  • details of any delivery costs, the expected date of delivery of goods or commencement of services and any restriction concerning the delivery area. (e.g. you can decline to deliver to the Outer Hebredies for the standard delivery charge, but you must say that in your Terms & Conditions!),
  • details of how payments can be made and when a payment card will be charged,
  • the arrangements for delivery or performance of the service, for example when consumers can expect delivery of the goods or the service to start,
  • information about your consumers’ right to cancel,
  • if consumers have to use a premium-rate phone number, you must specify the inclusive cost of the call (including taxes) before they incur any charges for the phone call, 
  • where goods or services are to be provided recurrently, the minimum duration of the contract. If a contract lasts more than a year or is open-ended, what the contractual conditions are for terminating it,
  • that you will pay the cost of your consumers returning any products that you supply as substitutes because the goods or services originally ordered are not available,
  • details of any guarantees or after-sales services,
  • details of your privacy policy and use of cookies.

You may, or may not be, aware that after submitting their order online, the Consumer Contract Regulations give consumers (with a very few exceptions) a period of time, known as the 'cooling-off period' during which they are entitled to cancel their order without giving a reason. As a minimum, the cooling-off period ends fourteen calendar days after the day on which the consumer receives the goods or the service commences.

When cancelling their order during the cooling-off period the customer is under no obligation to send the goods back to you unless you explicitly state in your terms and conditions that they must, but they are under an obligation to keep the goods safe and allow you to collect them. Further, you, the online retailer, will automatically be liable for the cost of getting the goods returned to you unless you have expressly stated that the cost of returning any goods will be borne by the consumer.

So you can see that it is important to get the wording right from the start!

Data protection rules set out how the personal information collected about individuals must be stored, managed and used. You will need to define a privacy policy, but it might well be that this can be dealt with by a short section in your terms and conditions. Amongst other things, the privacy policy should:

  • identify the business responsible for operating the website and anyone else who collects or processes personal data through the site,
  • detail the type of information collected from individuals via the website, and the uses that will be made of this data,
  • inform the customer about the use of their email address for marketing purposes.

In most cases you probably won't be disclosing personal data to third parties other than for fulfilling the contract. But if personal data is disclosed to third parties this must be fully explained in your privacy policy and you may also have to register with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

Magento uses cookies quite extensively, so it will be necessary to have a statement regarding the use of cookies. The rules governing how websites use cookies were changed in 2011 and many websites now utilise 'cookies consent banners' to comply with these new rules, however the ICO has stated the 'implied consent' is sufficient and so a statement regarding the use of cookies will be included in your terms and conditions, although a specific 'cookies consent banner' can be provided if you wish.