Selling via a website

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National Consumer Agency guide for businesses on their legal obligations if they sell online to consumers - from eCommerce regulations to data protection.

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Selling via a website

  1. 1. NCA guide for businesses Selling via a website An overview of the key rules if you sell online to consumers
  2. 2. Selling online to consumers <ul><li>Do you sell products or services to consumers through a website? </li></ul><ul><li>If you do, no matter how big or small your site, you must meet certain legal obligations </li></ul>These rules apply whether you are a large established company or just starting out
  3. 3. The obligations include… <ul><li>General requirements under consumer law </li></ul><ul><li>Distance selling rules </li></ul><ul><li>eCommerce regulations </li></ul><ul><li>Data protection </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate compliance </li></ul>
  4. 4. General requirements of consumer law <ul><li>Under consumer law: </li></ul><ul><li>Products or services for sale must be of a certain standard </li></ul><ul><li>What you say about them must be true </li></ul><ul><li>You must treat consumers fairly </li></ul><ul><li>In Ireland, these general requirements are contained in the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act and the Consumer Protection Act </li></ul>
  5. 5. Distance selling <ul><li>Specific rules also apply to &quot;distance selling” </li></ul><ul><li>This is where you take orders remotely from consumers (rather than face-to-face in a shop, office, market etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Distance selling includes sales via your website, email, phone or fax </li></ul>
  6. 6. EU's distance selling rules <ul><li>The distance selling regulations: </li></ul><ul><li>Apply to business-to-consumer transactions (but not business-to-business) </li></ul><ul><li>Specify certain information you must give consumers before the contract is enforceable </li></ul><ul><li>Allow consumers to cancel orders within a specific period, and require you to inform them how they can do this </li></ul>
  7. 7. In a nutshell… <ul><li>… these rules give consumers additional protection on top of general consumer law </li></ul><ul><li>Your customers do not need to be given a physical agreement on paper to have a distance contract with you </li></ul>
  8. 8. Information requirements <ul><li>Your ordering and delivery process must give visitors key information about: </li></ul><ul><li>Your business </li></ul><ul><li>Their order </li></ul><ul><li>The delivery costs involved </li></ul><ul><li>How to cancel </li></ul>
  9. 9. The cooling off period #1 <ul><li>In a physical shop … consumers don’t get an automatic “cooling off” period after buying goods/services </li></ul><ul><li>In online sales … a cooling off period for consumers is a major requirement </li></ul>
  10. 10. The cooling off period #2 <ul><li>During the cooling off period your customers can cancel their orders – without a reason </li></ul><ul><li>You must give them a &quot;cooling off&quot; period of at least seven working days </li></ul><ul><li>You also have obligations in situations where ordered goods/services are unavailable </li></ul>
  11. 11. Some goods and services are exempt <ul><li>The cooling off period does not apply to: </li></ul><ul><li>Customised products (e.g. T-shirt with customer’s personal slogan on it) </li></ul><ul><li>Perishable goods </li></ul><ul><li>Accommodation (hotels, guesthouses etc) for specific dates </li></ul>
  12. 12. EU’s eCommerce regulations <ul><li>Under eCommerce regulations you must give further specific information to customers </li></ul><ul><li>Some goods and services are excluded from the distance selling regulations , but the eCommerce regulations may still apply </li></ul><ul><li>For information requirements, see guides on NCA.ie </li></ul>
  13. 13. Data Protection Act <ul><li>Your site will need a privacy statement if you collect personal data such as… </li></ul><ul><li>In order forms, feedback forms etc </li></ul><ul><li>Using cookies or other tracking </li></ul><ul><li>Users’ IP or email addresses </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>See Data Protection Commissioner’s site for details </li></ul>
  14. 14. Spam and unsolicited calls <ul><li>Your staff have legal responsibilities in terms of “spam” – sending emails, text messages or direct marketing phone calls to people who:  </li></ul><ul><li>Are not already your customers or </li></ul><ul><li>Have not consented to be contacted by you in this way </li></ul>
  15. 15. Maximum penalties for spam <ul><li>€ 50,000 for an individual </li></ul><ul><li>€ 250,000 or 10% of turnover for a body corporate </li></ul>
  16. 16. Corporate compliance <ul><li>Under Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement rules, limited companies must give certain information on websites and in order forms (including ones sent by email): </li></ul><ul><li>Your company name </li></ul><ul><li>Company registration number </li></ul><ul><li>Registered office </li></ul>
  17. 17. Company registration details <ul><li>Many websites give &quot;footer&quot; links at the bottom of their pages to a &quot;Legal Information&quot; or &quot;Company Registration&quot; type page with this corporate information </li></ul><ul><li>You don’t need to meet these requirements if you are a sole trader </li></ul><ul><li>But it is still good practice to reassure potential customers about your business status </li></ul>
  18. 18. Checklist for your online shop <ul><li>Check whether your website meets the following five requirements… </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>1. Does it provide key information before and during the ordering process, such as a geographical address? </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>2. Does it give customers the option to cancel an order - and information on how to do this? </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>3. Does it meet data protection requirements about the personal data you collect, how you use/store it? </li></ul><ul><li>Do your staff know the dangers of sending spam ? </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>4. Does your site have a privacy statement ? </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>5. Does it display company registration details (if you are a limited company) </li></ul>
  24. 24. For more information… <ul><li>… check our Business Guides on NCA.ie </li></ul>

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