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Are You Really Complying with the Consumer Contract Regulations? Part 1

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Consumer Contract Regulations

You all remember the CCRs? They became law in June 2014, their full name: The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. They covered all the “information requirements” an installation company needs to provide at, or before the order is placed to ensure that the contract complies with the Regulations, and brought in new cancellation rights as part of harmonisation of such rights under the EU Consumer Rights Directive.

This is the first in a series of blogs we are publishing about the CCRs, because of our experience working with installers and seeing how things can be improved to comply with legislation. We hope our blog series will help installers comply with the legislation, avoid potential fines and potentially losing money from the cancellation of orders where a consumer can use “loopholes” to cancel.

If anyone wants to refer to the full text of the Regulations, they can refer to the pdf on the web link:  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/3134/pdfs/uksi_20133134_en.pdf

However, if you want to read advice in plain English, then there is the Business Companion website. The content on this website has been written by Expert contributors. 

Over the past four years, I have seen many different terms and conditions in the contracts of glazing installation companies. It has surprised me how many have not been altered to comply with the CCRs and how some have been altered, but not taken account of the information which has to be provided. In this first article, I will refer to some common omissions or errors which I have witnessed.

Cancellation rights - specifically referring to “off-premises” sales

Before the CCRs the consumer had an automatic 7 days cooling off period to cancel without penalty when sales were made “off-premises” such as those made in the consumer’s home. The CCRs changed the cancellation period for “off-premises” and “distance sales” to 14 days from delivery of the products rather than from the date the contract was ‘made’, but for products made to measure to the consumer’s specification (which the majority of replacement windows and doors are), the CCRs gave no cancellation period. Personally, I felt this was a backward step for consumer protection.

Nevertheless, many glazing installation companies, therefore, decided to continue to offer the consumer the same 7 days cooling-off period as they did before. However, many of them haven’t changed the wording on their contracts, and by not doing so, have unfortunately placed themselves in a worse position. This is because their “old” cancellation rights do not explain to the consumer that the products are made to measure. Consequently, the consumer may claim that they were not made aware the products are made to measure and can claim the new cancellation rights from the CCRs, i.e. 14 days from delivery! This could prove costly to the company.

Schedule 3 of the CCRs also gives Model Instructions for giving consumers the information about the right to cancel, with a cancellation form to be used (which the consumer does not have to use). Many companies are not offering consumers a cancellation form (which could be a tear-off strip or separate form), so are not strictly complying with the CCRs. Failure to provide written details of a consumer’s right to cancel is a criminal offence (see Regulation 19 of the CCRs).

The time that you will take to deliver and install the products

This is an information requirement of the CCRs, but I have seen many installation companies who do not comply with this. Some do not quote any delivery period at all, others say on the contract the delivery period will be agreed when the surveyor calls. These actions will not comply; you need to advise the delivery period to the consumer at the time the contract is made. This can be an estimated period with a range, e.g. 8 to 12 weeks, with a clause in your contract as to how the consumer may make time of the essence should the estimated period be exceeded, say by giving a further six weeks.” Making time of the essence” is a right the consumer has when the estimate delivery period has elapsed, in giving a deadline date for installation.

If you offer after-sales service or guarantees you must make consumers aware of this and any applicable conditions

Installation companies give a guarantee against defective materials and workmanship, but some companies only advise the consumer of the guarantee terms after installation. To comply with the CCRs, the guarantee information must be made available to the consumer before, or at the time the contract is made. Guarantee details can easily be made available on a company’s website for reference by a consumer. Guarantees or warranties provided by an installer are an addition to the consumer’s rights to 'goods of a satisfactory quality' or work carried out using ‘reasonable care and skill’ under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Part 2 of this article will be issued at a later date. Further information can be found on www.businesscompanion.info and if you have any specific questions on this subject, please email communications@dgcos.org.uk

 

 

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