Santa Claus’s failure to alert children to their rights to full refunds within seven working days under the Distance Selling Regulations is in breach of those rules, an expert has warned.
Gifts specialist Claus has already failed to respond to accusations that his data protection policies are putting children’s personal data at risk.
“Under the Distance Selling Regulations anyone taking orders in the post as Santa does has certain obligations,” said Struan Robertson, e-commerce specialist at Pinsent Masons.
“Children have a right to reject the gifts they requested and receive a full refund within seven working days. If he does not provide lots of information about the child’s purchase when making his delivery then that period can be extended by up to three months,” said Robertson.
“All they have to do is cancel their contract, and I imagine a follow-up letter up the chimney should do it. He must also tell children that they have this right, which he plainly doesn’t,” he said.
Under the Distance Selling Regulations, Claus is obliged to provide children with details of the price of the goods delivered, something which is to most people not in the spirit of Christmas. A source close to the Grotto said that Claus was simply unprepared to bend to that rule.
“Santa says he takes the hit on that one every year, giving canny kids the chance to get refunds because he’s failed in the information he supplies,” said the source. “But what good is a Santa with price tags? It’s just not Christmas.”
For the laws to apply there must be a contract in place, but Robertson said that this was almost always the case. “The letter up the chimney is clearly an offer, the delivery of the goods is acceptance. Under English law there also must be a form of consideration, which the glass of brandy and carrot clearly qualify as,” he said. “It does mean, of course, that the less generous household which leaves nothing for Santa or the reindeer is left without adequate consumer protection, which seems oddly just.”
OUT-LAW can also reveal that Claus is likely to be in breach of one company’s trade mark with his gift distribution enterprise. ‘Santa Claus of Greenland’ has a trade mark over that term in relation to games, playthings, sports goods, decorations for Christmas trees and the regulation and control of electricity, amongst other things.
“This is a clear case of infringement,” said David Woods, a litigation specialist at Pinsent Masons. “True, Santa is from Lapland not Greenland, but I think that you could make the case that the level of general ignorance of geography is such that confusion would be created by Santa’s trading under the name Santa Claus.”