If you wish to charge your consumer customers extra for use of a telephone helpline or the provision of additional services, you will need to obtain their consent in advance.
- Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (the “Regulations”) the rules apply to most contracts between traders and consumers.
- A consumer is “an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession.
- “A trader is “a person acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession, whether acting personally or through another person acting in the trader’s name or on the trader’s behalf.
- “Face-to-face, online and other forms of distance contracts are all caught.
- No sum is payable beyond the sum agreed for the trader’s main obligation unless the consumer gives express consent before he or she becomes bound by the contract.
- The additional payment should not be presented as the default option: consumers should not, for example, be required to untick a pre-ticked box or tick an unticked box to indicate that they do not consent.
- A consumer must not be charged more than the basic rate to use a telephone line to contact the trader about an existing contract.
- There is no definition of “basic rate” in the Regulations but Government guidance suggests that it is no more than a geographic or mobile rate and that premium rate, revenue-sharing and 0870 numbers do not qualify.
- If a trader offers a choice of numbers then any basic rate number ought to be communicated more prominently.
A trader who receives an additional payment or charges the consumer more than the basic rate in breach of the rules must reimburse that payment or the amount paid above the basic rate to the consumer.
- The rules are enforced by Trading Standards, who may apply to the Court for an injunction against an offending trader.
- If a trader fails to reimburse a consumer, the consumer may bring an action against the trader for breach of contract.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of Commercial law, please contact Catherine O’Riordan, Associate, on 01295 204150 or email co’firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Disclaimer: While everything has been done to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this article, it is a general guide only. It is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought in relation to the particular facts of a given situation.*