Following the introduction of the new Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, scheme operators for TrustMark, the Government endorsed quality mark for expert tradespeople, are swinging into action to help its TrustMark registered tradesmen comply with the significant changes that now apply to home improvement and repair contracts.
The new regulations introduce major changes in the law relating to consumer protection. They now apply to consumer contracts made on-premises (through retail stores), made at a distance (including online sales) and off-premises (e.g. in-home sales).
Firms will need to review their processes and change their paperwork and terms and conditions to ensure they are compliant with the new law. Failure to comply may result in prosecution or a fine. Depending on the type of breach, the contract with the homeowner may also be invalid.
The key changes include:
- Consumers must now be given much more informationbefore they sign acontract, about the trader, the goods, the price, any other applicable charges, the terms of the contract, and their cancellation rights in a clear and comprehensive manner.
- Traders will need the active consent of the consumer for all payments – pre-ticked boxes for additional payments, for instance, will no longer be permitted.
- Consumers will not be liable for costs which they have not been told about in advance.
- The cooling-off period for goods and services sold by distance or by off-premises selling will be harmonised across the EU to 14 days from date of delivery of the products, as opposed to the previous seven days from date of contract.
- Where a consumer has a right to cancel a contract, the trader is required to provide the customer with a model cancellation form.
- The cancellation period is extended to, broadly, 12 months if the trader fails to provide certain pre-contract information. The trader could also be liable to a fine of up to £5,000.
- There are some exemptions as regards cancellation rights, one of which is for products “made to the consumer’s specification” – this will include such products as made-to-measure windows made to a consumer’s specific requirements; another is for urgent repairs and maintenance when a consumer invites a trader to their home.
Liz Male Chairman of TrustMark, says:
“These new Consumer Contracts Regulations will really help to clarify contracts for homeowners and tradespeople, so they should be viewed positively. It’s a big step forward to helping both sides enjoy a positive and transparent working relationship on all home repair, maintenance and improvement jobs.
“What matters now is that all TrustMark-registered firms get the detailed guidance they need in order to ensure they are fully compliant. I’m delighted our approved scheme operators in this sector are already busy providing this support to their registered firms.”
For further information and to stay up-to-date with developments at TrustMark, visit www.trustmark.org.uk
For further information on the new Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, visit www.bis.gov.uk or www.tradingstandards.gov.uk
Issued on behalf of TrustMark - For further information, please contact:
Georgina Watkins, Tel: 07595 158460, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
- TrustMark is the Government endorsed quality scheme that signposts people to reputable local tradespeople. It is a registered social enterprise, operated under licence from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
- TrustMark’s website has an easy to use UK wide postcode search facility, which provides details of more than 21,000 licensed trades and has the largest database of accredited tradespeople in the country.
- All TrustMark firms’ technical skills have been independently checked through on-site inspections to ensure a high quality of workmanship and trading practices. TrustMark is the only scheme that requires qualified inspectors to do these visits, so that technical competence is checked as well as business practices and customer satisfaction.
- TrustMark firms make a commitment to work to Government endorsed standards and are able to offer insurance backed warranties and deposit protection, as well as operating a user-friendly complaints procedure.
- TrustMark is not an advertising directory or a website that sells leads. It is a registered social enterprise, operated under licence from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). As a not-for-profit organisation it does not make money from consumers.