The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013 (The ConCon Regs) will come into force sometime in the New Year and the format will have implications for bulk email marketing in both practice and presentation.
It should be noted that some things have remained the same, although will now come under The ConCon Regs rather than their introductory regulations. These include the information a trader must supply to a customer before a contract is established, such as:
1. The main characteristics of the goods/services
2. The trader’s name, geographical address and telephone number
3. The total price of the goods/services including all payable taxes
4. Any additional charges (e.g. delivery) where applicable
A new provision is that when a contract places the consumer under an obligation to pay this must be acknowledged by the consumer in an explicit manner. Of interest for bulk email marketing is that if placing the order entails something like activating a button, it must be labelled in an easily legible manner with the words ‘order with obligation to pay’ or a similar unambiguous phrase which says the exact same thing. Many might feel that the suggested words are the ones to use.
If this is not followed then the customer will not be bound by the contract.
The trader must ensure that any trading website through which the contract is concluded indicates clearly and legibly, at the latest at the beginning of the ordering process, whether any delivery restrictions apply and which means of payment are accepted.
There is much emphasis in The ConCon Regs on eliminating hidden costs and it states that any additional costs will not be payable by the consumer unless his express permission is obtained. Specifically excluded under the definition of express is a pre-ticked box.
The suggestions that The ConCon Regs would be excessively restrictive have been proved incorrect. They seem, essentially, quite sensible. Indeed, many of the provisions are already being conformed with by many bulk email marketing companies and on-line retailers. However, it would be wise to check your wording and systems to ensure you will not fall foul of them.