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Brian Smith2

Devil in the Detail

GGF warns all companies in the fenestration sector to make sure their contract terms still conform to changes in legislation affecting cooling off periods

The Consumer Rights Directive in June 2014 was implemented in the UK via the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which meant that all companies who deal with consumers needed to alter contract terms and conditions.

However, the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) has heard of cases where companies have continued with their existing contracts giving a seven days cooling off period. Taking this action is now likely to result in a consumer being entitled to a ‘very long’ 14 days cooling off period from the date of delivery because the company has not informed them as to their rights under the Consumer Contracts Regulations (CCRs).

The CCRs mean companies must inform consumers of their rights as to their cooling-off period relative to the CCRs, which can be zero days on made-to-measure windows made to the consumer’s specific requirements and personal choices.

This is a complicated subject which the GGF has found that even many Trading Standards Officers are struggling to understand.

To help companies cope with this legislation the GGF has published revised Model Terms and Conditions of Contract, plus Guidance on implementation of the EU Consumer Rights Directive for both GGF members (free of charge) and non-members (£75).

“The Consumer Contracts Regulations (CCRS) were implemented in the UK on the 13 June 2014,” said Brian Smith, Home Improvement Director, GGF. “We would stress that this is entirely separate legislation from the Consumer Rights Bill which is now due to be implemented in October 2015. In the meantime, I would urge all companies who have not changed their contracts in line with the Consumer Rights Directive, to do so as soon as possible.”

The main issues of the CCRs are:-

  • The cooling off period for goods and services sold by distance or by off-premises selling has been harmonised across the EU to 14 days from date of delivery of the products.
  • There are some important exemptions, one of which is for products ‘made to the consumer’s specification’
  • Another is for urgent repairs and maintenance when a consumer invites a trader to their home.
  • There is a now a ‘very’ long list of pre-contract information which must be provided to consumers before a contract is made, including advising cancellation rights and if a trader belongs to a code of conduct, e.g. the GGF Consumer Code of Good Practice. Failure to provide certain items will give a consumer a cooling-off period of up to 379 days, and the trader would be liable to a fine of up to £5,000

GGF Members voted to retain the previous legal requirement of a seven days’ cooling off period from date of contract in the GGF Consumer Code of Good Practice in addition to the requirements of the new legislation.

Caption    Brian Smith, Home Improvement Director, GGF – “I would urge all companies who have not changed their contracts in line with the Consumer Rights Directive, to do so as soon as possible.”

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