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What Does an E-Commerce Business Need to Know About Consumer Protection in the UK?

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Running an e-commerce business requires you to comply with the law. For example, when your customers make online transactions for goods or services from your site, the law protects them. Consumer protection laws obligate you, as an online retailer, to abide by particular practices. This article will unpack what an e-commerce business needs to know about consumer protection in the UK.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the Act) is a crucial piece of legislation protecting consumers when they purchase goods. It will apply regardless of whether people purchase from a brick-and-mortar store or an online site. 

The Act protects consumers in several ways. For example, it requires your e-commerce business to ensure the goods or services you provide are of good quality. It also obligates you to ensure they are fit for their purpose and to provide a full refund if your customer decides to return the goods. 

Specific Laws for Consumer Protection

Notably, various laws are in place to protect consumers, including the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. This law protects consumers by preventing your e-commerce brand from having unfair practices such as hidden fees or charges. 

Other laws protect consumers when they shop with your e-commerce brand, such as the Payment Services Regulations 2017. These protect your customers by safeguarding their funds. 

Further, the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 detail obligations when providing a service to sell goods online. One example is how customers have the right to cancel their order, and you must give precise details about what you provided your consumers with.

In addition, your consumers are protected when they shop with you through the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002. They protect consumers by obligating you to provide them with specific information when they shop with you.

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Data Protection Considerations

Your e-commerce brand must comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK GDPR. These laws apply to you when you process and store data from your customers. Complying with data protection laws is a significant aspect of consumer protection. When shopping from your site, customers provide you with valuable personal information, including their:

  • name;
  • home address; 
  • email address; 
  • contact number; and
  • credit card information.

Your e-commerce site must have processes in place to collect, store and delete personal information.

Further, the Data Protection Act 2018 protects your customers and requires you as an e-commerce brand, to :

  • get consent from your consumers to collect data from them;
  • ask your customers for permission to process their data; and 
  • make sure you handle your customers’ data securely.

Key Takeaways

When you run an e-commerce business, abiding by consumer laws is crucial. Consumer law is broad, and various laws will apply to your online business, such as:

  • Consumer Rights Act 2015;
  • Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008;
  • Payment Services Regulations 2017;
  • Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013;
  • Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002;
  • Data Protection Act 2018; and
  • UK GDPR. 

If you need help understanding your consumer law obligations, our experienced e-commerce lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.

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