New consumer protection legislation, the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 are due to come into force on 13th June 2014. At first glance, it may seem the travel industry has been let off lightly with package holidays being exempt from the entire Regulations (although perhaps that’s because packages are already heavily regulated enough!). Furthermore, Part 3 of the Regulations – Right to Cancel, which infers a cooling off period into consumer contracts, expressly exempts passenger transport services, the supply of accommodation, catering or services relating to leisure activities.
That said, other parts of the Regulations do apply to those companies within the travel industry selling accommodation, attractions, Flight-Plus and similar services and/or where acting as an agent. Schedule 2 of the Regulations outlines the information companies must provide to customers when concluding a ‘distance contract’, i.e. an online or telephone sale. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here and most of this information should already be included on your website, invoices and in your terms and conditions.
In addition to this, where customers make an online purchase, the ‘Place Order’ or ‘Buy Now’ button must expressly state that by placing an order there is an obligation on the customer to pay. So something along the lines of ‘Place Order and Pay Now’ to ensure there is no doubt in the customer’s mind that by placing an order they are under an obligation to pay…a slightly pointless requirement we feel as we can’t envisage many scenarios where customers, having entered in all their card details, are still in any doubt as to whether they have to pay for their purchase! Furthermore, companies must also make it clear which means of payment are accepted and whether any delivery restrictions apply, and a confirmation invoice must be issued to the customer.
The option boxes for the purchase of additional extras can no longer be pre-ticked. If a customer wishes to buy any extras in addition to their initial purchase, e.g. insurance, they must expressly tick the box confirming they wish to purchase these extras. And last but not least, the Regulations ban the use of premium rate numbers for after sales and customer services lines (but not sales lines).
If you’d like a more detailed advice on the Regulations and how they will affect your business please contact Farina Azam.