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Legal rules when selling outside the sales area

Legal rules when selling outside the sales area

No horse show goes by without booths selling everything that has anything (or nothing) to do with horses; from horse boxes to tractors, from trailers to bridles and from nutritional supplements to paintings. This refers to so-called off-premises sales.

Sales outside the sales area, such as door-to-door sales, sales at markets or fairs, and sales by telephone or the Internet, so-called door-to-door sales, involve many legal responsibilities for the seller to protect the consumer buyer.

Off-premises sales

Off-premises sales means sales activities that take place outside the physical location of a store or business premises. This covers a lot of selling methods where the consumer and seller do not meet in a traditional retail environment. This can range from face-to-face interactions to online transactions.

Consumer protection

There are quite a few legal rules associated with off-premises sales. In the Netherlands, the Distance Selling Act and the Colportage Act (door-to-door selling) apply. These laws protect consumers and place specific requirements on the seller. The purpose of these legal rules is to protect the consumer when selling outside the sales area where the consumer often has less preparation time.

Right of withdrawal

One of those legal rules is the right of withdrawal, which allows consumers in distance selling to cancel the purchase without giving reasons, or in other words to dissolve the purchase agreement, within a cooling-off period. In the Netherlands, this period is 14 days from the day the consumer receives the product or enters into the agreement. The seller must inform the consumer about this and clearly explain the procedure for exercising this right. The seller must provide or make available a standard withdrawal form, which the consumer can fill out to revoke the agreement. If the consumer exercises the right of withdrawal, the seller must refund all payments, including delivery costs, within 14 days. The direct costs of returning the goods are for the consumer, unless the seller has indicated to bear these costs.

Giving information

In addition, sellers must provide clear information about the product, price, its identity and terms and conditions prior to the sale. The starting point in each case is that the seller clearly presents all information about the product and informs consumers of their rights. No fine print and no unfair business practices, but transparency The seller must disclose his name, business address, contact details and his trade register or VAT number. In addition, the seller must make clear the terms of the sale, including payment terms, guarantees, delivery time, duration of the contract (in the case of subscriptions), and the conditions for termination of the contract.

Product description.

The seller must provide a detailed and accurate description of the product, including all relevant features and specifications and clarify the price and any additional costs, such as shipping, installation or subscription fees.

Delivery time

Sellers must deliver products or services as agreed upon with the consumer. The seller must give an indication of the delivery time and adhere to it. If delivery within the agreed period is not possible, the consumer must be notified and given the opportunity to cancel the agreement. The delivered product must meet the specifications and quality that the consumer can reasonably expect. In case of defects or shortcomings, the consumer is entitled to repair, replacement or refund.

Warranties

Sellers must inform consumers about warranty terms and available aftercare. In addition to any commercial warranties, the seller must remind consumers of the legal warranty, which is that the product must meet the consumer’s reasonable expectations of it. Clearly explain the duration of the warranty, what it covers and how the consumer can avail of it. Sellers must offer efficient customer service to handle complaints, inquiries and returns.

Conclusion

Selling outside the sales space offers many opportunities, but also brings with it many legal responsibilities. By being and staying aware of the legal rules and applying them carefully and being transparent and honest, sellers can be successful with off-premises sales. Because not all legal rules are clear in advance, it is wise to have a legal review of the method of operation when selling outside the sales space.

Wibe Reddingius

Wibe Reddingius is a lawyer and partner at Langelaar Klinkhamer Advocaten. He specializes in the areas of corporate law, contract law and (international) commercial law. In addition, Wibe is a specialist in the field of equestrian law and as such he is a lawyer for well-known riders, breeders, traders and equestrian trade organizations. Questions regarding this blog post? Contact Wibe by emailing reddingius@langelaarklinkhamer.com.

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