The Consumer Rights Act (the Act) has been on the statute books for over a year and it is remarkable that so many companies have failed to comply with its provisions. Casual surfing will reveal any number of offences and email marketing seems to be worse in certain specifics.
Should you bother to check if you are legal when some of the biggest international online companies ignore the legislation? After all, a level playing field should be what the law was supposed to enforce.
We’ve covered the recent ‘sweep’ by the EU of websites: the willingness to prosecute being a welcome sign that things might be changing. Given the number of companies selling online, all it is in essence is a warning. Bottom line is what it’s all about and there must be some benefits to compliance.
What must be remembered is that we sell to a public which is educated as to its rights under the law and a carefully constructed returns policy is pointless if it doesn’t comply. Further, many are put off by those companies which ignore the law. As more follow the provisions of the Act, those that are aberrant will stand out.
There has been little specific research but it seems clear that if you emphasise that you comply with the law it does give you an advantage over those that do not broadcast their compliance. You can go too far though, and just a mention on your Home Page, together with a link to customer rights, should be enough.
How about going one step further for those on your email marketing lists? It could be rewarding to have an extended period to reject a particular product. The Act stipulates a 14-day period for the return of an item ‘no questions asked’.
If the product is a little out of the ordinary, or might take some getting used to, you could include on the marketing email that ‘we comply with the Consumer Rights Act. In this case we will double the time limit.’ It will encourage those who are reluctant to risk buying something so unusual, and those that experience initial difficulties might well wait an extra week or two, just to see.