Len Dastard warns – don't get caught out by Distance Selling Regulations

Bitterwallet-Len-Dastard-featuredBuenas tardes, my flock! It is I, Len Dastard, real-life litigation executive posing as a fictional Mexican wrestler. That doesn't mean I couldn't go ten rounds with you in the ring and leave you eating sopa de dientes. Know this.

We had an email from avid Bitterwallet reader James concerning a transaction that took place online. James wanted to know whether a retailer could exclude the rights granted to us under the Distance Selling Regulations - the retailer in question was We Are Electricals.

We have quite an extensive list of scenarios now on the Distance Selling Regulations - have a look here for a recap. The answer to the question of whether a retailer can exclude the DSRs is usually no, they cannot. However, after some consideration of the retailer in this example, it would appear that they can. This particular retailer makes it clear by their wording and terms (which you have to agree you have read) that they intend only to contract with other businesses.

Therefore you cannot rely on the DSRs as the regulations only cover business-to-consumer transactions. The situation would be very different if the set-up of the website was such that it was unclear whether or not they intended to only contract with businesses.

Aside from this instance, remember that the Distance Selling Regulations do not apply to:

• Financial services
• Auctions
• Goods bought from a vending machine
• Goods bought using a public payphone
• Contracts for the sale of land
ª Contracts for the constructions of a building

The following is a list (of a few examples) of items that are non-cancellable:

• Betting, gaming or lottery services
• Newspapers etc
• Goods which might deteriorate quickly

Be on your guard! The DSRs are there to protect you, but they are not absolute and will not cover every single transaction.

Get in contact with us at [email protected] if you would like us to look at any issues for you.


  • Sawyer
    Another major exception, if I'm not mistaken, is personalised goods. The cynical among us would say that's why Apple offer free engravings on their iStuff.
  • Mark C.
    Isn't there also some sort of hygiene-based get-out clause covering the return of goods such as earrings and underwear?
  • Bonnie
    Actually the list above is relatively small compared to the number of exceptions and part exceptions to the DSR, it also includes goods which are consumed or used regularly in every day scenarios, but have been provided at the customers household, it also part covers transport services, and of course as the two posts above state goods which due to their nature cannot be returned i.e personalised and bespoke products and hygeine related products / those affected by hygeine ie bikinis and some jewellery etc etc. The loopholes and solutions that can be exploited from these exceptions are discussed in most business forums too including the Apple scenario, hence the reason for the OFT to keep updating and tightening the belt for retaillers. Its a shame because most small businesses do keep to the regs and are happy to in order to improve customer service, its the huge businesses that can afford to go against the grain which make it harder for small businesses, its not like they cant afford the slap on the wrist they get...
  • Gillian
    Bonnie love, you are wrong. Goods which, by their nature cannot be returned refers to items where it is a physical impossibility to restore them in the same condition you received them. Such as lycra - which goes out of shape/distorted once worn. There is no exception to cancelling under the DSR's for hygiene reasons. The consumers right to cancel is unconditional and DSRs do not link the consumers right to cancel with the retailers ability to resell. They can state what they feel is reasonable care, but if this were to impact on your ability to evaluate the product, it would not be legally binding on the consumer.

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