Focus on Commercial: What is a mail-order form?

A mail-order form should be included whenever you send a catalog selling goods by mail-order (ie where a customer places an order through the post). Certain information is legally required to be included on a mail-order form, and ensuring legal compliance helps to maintain good customer relationships and your business’s reputation.

You should attach your standard terms and conditions of sale to the mail-order form (you can find templates here).

If you use our template mail-order form, it also provides options to either direct customers to your privacy policy URL or attach your privacy policy to the form itself.

Information provided on the mail-order form

Your mail-order form needs to include the following information:

1. Payment information How the customer can pay and which payment methods you accept.

2. Delivery information Delivery options, including any delivery charges (see Customer service when selling via mail order for more information about your obligations in relation to delivery).

3. Options for the customer to consent to various items

Your form should include tick-boxes (none of which should be pre-ticked) dealing with:

  • confirmation from the customer that they have read and understood your terms and conditions (for templates, see Terms and conditions – Sale of goods, Terms and conditions – Services and Terms and conditions – Sale of goods and services);
  • if you wish to use the customer’s details in order to send them marketing materials (eg new catalogs) in the future, you may need to include an option for them to consent to receive direct marketing from you in the future – see Obtaining consent for direct marketing for when you will need consent for this, and how to get it;
  • digital content – if you intend to let a consumer download or stream the content within 14 days of placing their order, you must obtain their express consent, and acknowledgment that they will lose their legal right to cancel as a result; and
  • any additional services or items that the customer has the option of paying for (eg purchasing insurance with jewelery). You must get the customer’s express consent to paying for any such additional items, which means that the customer must tick a box to positively indicate they want the additional service. If you do not get this consent (eg the default position is that the jewelery comes with insurance which costs extra), you may be required to reimburse the customer for the additional costs.

Our template mail-order form is customizable to your business.

As well as providing the appropriate information on your mail-order form, there is also certain information you need to provide to customers as part of your catalog itself. This is discussed further below.

Information required in your catalog

There is certain legal information which you must provide within your catalog if you sell to consumers.

This can be divided up as follows:

1. Information about your businessYour customers need to know basic details about your business and how to get in contact with you.

2. Information about the customer’s rightsIt is suggested you do this in a standard set of terms and conditions to be produced within the catalog.

3. Product informationYou must provide this on the product pages.

Our Q&A on Mail-order sales provides further guidance about these requirements.

Whilst you are not required to provide most of this information to business customers (who are not consumers), you may not know for sure whether it is a business or consumer ordering through your catalog, unless you only sell to trade customers. In most cases, you should therefore ensure that this information is made available to all customers as a matter of course.

See Checklist of information to include to ensure your catalog is legally compliant for a quick guide on ensuring your catalog is legally compliant.

Sending an order confirmation

Once you receive and process a customer’s mail-order sale, you will need to send them an order confirmation. This must be done as soon as possible and, at the latest, before you deliver your goods to the customer. The confirmation could be sent by post or via email.

Your confirmation must include the following:

  • any of the information required in your catalog or mail-order form that you have not already sent to the customer;
  • how and when the goods will be delivered or digital content supplied; and
  • where you have sold digital content to the customer and they have agreed to your providing it immediately and acknowledged that they will lose their cancellation rights as a result, you must provide confirmation of this consent and acknowledgment.

For what to do if a customer orders something which is out of stock, see Customer service when selling via mail order.

The content in this article is up-to-date at the date of publishing. The information provided is for information purposes only, and is not for the purpose of providing legal advice. © Sparqa Limited 2022. All rights reserved.


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