Online sales simplified by new guide

While many consumers are increasingly comfortable and familiar with spending money on goods and services online – and many businesses are more than happy to assist them in that activity – there is perhaps less comfort and familiarity surrounding the aspects of consumer protection law to which online traders must adhere.

To help online traders feel confident that they are following the rules – and that they have done their best to protect themselves in the event that something goes wrong with one of the products or services they supply – a new Sellinggoods via online platforms: Guidance for traders’ information resource has been published.

The guide, available for free on the Business Companion website, has been written by a consumer protection expert and covers a wide range of important information in clear, straightforward language designed to answer any questions or concerns busy online traders may have.

For added convenience, the guidance is available in a range of formats, including an explainer video, a podcast and a downloadable PDF booklet.

Among the topics covered are returns, refunds and cancellations, as well as contracts, delivery, complaint handling and dispute resolution.

For UK traders who sell their goods to consumers elsewhere in Europe, the guidance also discusses the new legislation they must follow when it comes to VAT.

Further resources include a pre-contractual information checklist to help traders feel confident that they are following the rules – and that their customers are treated fairly and within the rules of consumer protection law.

According to consumer protection and compliance expert Clare Forbes, who wrote the guidance, “When it comes to dealing with complaints about a product or service, whether it’s been mis-described or there’s a safety issue, or whether a service hasn’t been performed as the consumer would like, the important thing is that businesses understand what their legal obligations are, and understand what consumers’ rights are.”

David MacKenzie, CTSI Joint Lead Officer for e-Commerce, says: “Ninety-nine percent of the time when we contact businesses and talk it through with them and explain how they can comply with consumer law, we get a positive response. Most people want to do the right thing, but the challenge is getting the information to them.

“This new guide is absolutely part of that, and can play a key role in getting that information out to businesses in a clear way.”

To read the guide, click here.

About Business Companion

Business Companion contains impartial free information and is Government-backed.

The content on Business Companion is written and verified by expert contributors, but is not designed to be a replacement for professional advice and is intended only for guidance. Only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

Business Companion covers trading standards law for England, Scotland and Wales. For guidance on the law in Northern Ireland, please see