As the new Distance Selling Regulations stipulate different cancellation periods depending on whether goods or services are bought, just where do mobile phones by mail order fit into this?
Topic: M commerce
Who: The UK Department of Trade and Industry
When: October 2000
The DTI has published a "Guide for Business" to the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000. Available on-line at www.dti.gov.uk the Guide provides clear, no nonsense explanations of the rules that have been in force since 31 October 2000, and a helpful "Frequently asked questions" section. This deals with issues such as the sale of mobile phones by distance selling methods, for example mail order. The FAQ refers to the different cooling off periods for goods (seven working days beginning the day after delivery) and services (seven working days beginning the day after the date of the service contract). It poses the question of which applies to mobile phone sales when all these deals involve a mixture of goods in the form of the phone itself and services by way of the connection. The DTI’s answer is that if the phone is sold at full price, with limited additional elements then "probably" the cancellation period for goods will apply. If on the other hand the handset is given away or sold at a significantly discounted price, the contract is likely to be treated as for services, with the phone returnable on cancellation, which can occur up to seven working days from the date of the contract.
Why this matters:
mobile phones are rarely sold at full price and this provides welcome clarification, though the DTI Guide stresses that it is not the word of law and that legal advice should be taken on questions of interpretation, such as what is an "insignificant" discount!