Considerations for retailers on the eve of Black Friday

On the eve of Black Friday, we consider the key consumer points that retailers should bear in mind.

It is estimated that Black Friday will see £1.07 billion spent by consumers in the UK through online sales alone (source: Experian-IMRG). Of this, however, retailers could lose as much as £130 million from the return of items bought during the 24 hour period (source: Clear Returns).

Now nearly two months on since the Consumer Rights Act came into force and over a year since the introduction of the Consumer Contract Regulations, we consider the key points that retailers should bear in mind on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Our five key points:

  • The right to cancel – consumers have a 14 day right to cancel an order from the point that the goods come into their physical possession. They do not need to give a reason for wanting to cancel and any clear statement of intent to cancel needs to be recognised (whether written or oral). However, guidance states that it is not possible to cancel an order by failing to collect the goods from the Post Office or returning them without any explicit statement to that effect.
  • Delivery to a neighbour – the goods are at the trader’s risk until they come into the physical possession of the customer that ordered them unless they have specifically nominated a third party to take delivery on their behalf. Delivery to a neighbour (unless specifically requested by the consumer) does not shift the risk in the goods!
  • Delivery – goods must be delivered within 30 days. Delivery times were a bone of contention on Black Friday last year and many retailers have done lots of work to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself. If the items cannot be delivered within 30 days, this needs to be clearly stated upfront before the order is accepted.
  • Faulty goods – consumers now have a specific 30 day ‘short term’ right to reject for faulty goods or goods that do not comply with their description. However, if a customer wants to exercise this right, they must be able to demonstrate that: a) there is a fault with the goods; and b) the fault existed at the time of delivery. Once 30 days have passed, the customer has the right to a repair or replacement and then ultimately, a right to a refund or price reduction. These rights last for six years (five years in Scotland) – see our article on: Selling Goods – Getting it Right under the New Consumer Rights Act. Trading Standards has also issued a useful guidance note on returns.
  • Delivery by instalments – consumers are not bound to accept delivery by instalments unless you have agreed this with the consumer.

Given that Which? has reported that 34% of consumers have not heard of the Consumer Rights Act, it will be interesting to see how Black Friday 2015 is influenced by the new laws.

Author - Rosanna Biggs

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Alan Owens

Partner - Head of Technology & Communications

I am the Head of Technology & Communications sector at DWF, and a Partner in the Commercial Litigation and Arbitration team based in London.