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Consumer contracts for retailers

they commit to any type of purchase. However, the details of what you need to provide, and how, vary between different types of sale. The most important factor is where the sale takes place: there are specific rules applying to sales made at a distance (via e-commerce, for example), in consumers’ homes, and on your premises.

P In your shop

Obviously, you do not need to draw up a set of terms and conditions every time you sell something from your shop premises. The contract between a shopkeeper and their customer is typically a mixture of statutory consumer rights and the store’s own discretionary policies.

● Returns and refunds: The Sale of Goods Act 1979 is a key piece of legislation covering consumers’ general rights to return goods or obtain refunds. Because these are statutory rights, they are considered to be ‘implied terms’ of a sale; you don’t necessarily need to spell them out, though it might be a good idea to include them on a notice somewhere in the store.

re-contractual information must be provided to consumers (non-commercial customers) before

If you’re a retailer, what do you need to make consumers aware of before they buy from you? BETTER BUSINESS explains.

Consumers can claim a refund if goods are faulty, not of a reasonable quality, or not as described. The original purchase price must be refunded even if the consumer returns the goods after the price has been reduced in a sale. A replacement can be offered instead of a refund, but the consumer is entitled to insist on a refund.

You don’t have to provide a refund or exchange on a product if the consumer has simply changed their mind.

However, most shopkeepers operate a discretionary returns policy allowing customers to return items within a minimum period following a sale, even if there’s nothing wrong with them.

It’s best practice to display details of your returns policy somewhere obvious at the point of sale – for example on your sales counter. Many retailers also include details of their policy on receipts, but this is not enough on its own – the information must be available before the consumer makes their purchase. If you publish a returns policy that goes beyond what is required by law, you are still legally bound to honour it.


Better Business No 189

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