CCPC publishes guidance to help businesses amidst Brexit changes

January 28, 2021

  • Businesses reminded of the requirements of consumer protection law when selling online or over the phone.
  • Businesses required to disclose their geographic address or place of business and disclose when they are acting on behalf of another business.
  • Total price including additional charges must also be disclosed before consumers place their orders.

As businesses respond to the changes brought about by Brexit, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has published guidance for businesses registered in Ireland to help them understand their obligations under consumer protection law. The guidance is particularly aimed at businesses who source their products from the UK and who may now be experiencing delays on orders, increased costs and whose customers may now have to pay VAT/Customs charges.

Consumer Rights Directive – Information requirements

EU businesses that sell online or over the phone, have responsibilities under the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD). One of the core obligations under the CRD is that businesses must provide certain information to consumers in a clear, understandable way before they enter into a contract.

In the current circumstances there are specific information requirements that businesses should be particularly aware of including. They must provide:

  • Their trading name and the geographical address at which the business is established along with contact details, including a telephone number and an e-mail address.
  • Where the business acts on behalf of another business, the geographical address of this other business and where the consumer can address any complaints.
  • The total price of the goods or services inclusive of taxes and import duties/customs charges. Or where the nature of the goods or services is such that the price cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, the manner in which the price is to be calculated. This information is required before the consumer makes a payment.
  • Where applicable, all additional freight delivery or postal charges or, where those charges cannot be reasonably calculated in advance, the fact that such charges may be payable.
  • Where distance contracts are concluded through a trading website the business must indicate before or at the beginning of the ordering process whether any delivery restrictions apply.

The onus is on the business to establish the cost and provide full price information to consumers for costs that can be reasonably calculated in advance.

Consumer Rights Directive – Deliveries

Some businesses are experiencing delays with shipping and delivery and this has a knock on effect for consumers. Under the CRD, businesses should deliver goods within the timeframe agreed at the point of sale. If no specific timeframe is agreed for the delivery then a business has 30 days from the conclusion of the contract to have goods delivered.

However, there are obligations that businesses need to be aware of:

  • If they do not deliver the goods within the timeframe agreed, they should either agree a different date or the consumer can cancel the contract and the business must provide a refund. Refunds should be processed without undue delay after the order is cancelled.
  • They are responsible for goods purchased until they are delivered to the consumer, unless the consumer organises their own delivery. This means that if a business organises a courier to deliver a purchase, the business must ensure that the delivery takes place. Should the business fail to deliver the item, the consumer is entitled to a refund.

The CCPC’s guidance, which includes a guide to selling online is available here. The CCPC has also published information to help consumers when they are buying online which is available here.

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