By organizing the delivery of goods on a tight schedule, you can easily make mistakes that ultimately lead to fines, loss of time and customers. Polina Kulachenko, lawyer of sub-practice “Banking and finance. Commercial Law “of the legal company REVERA.
– Until recently, delivery of goods to a place convenient for the buyer was an additional option for business and sometimes an advantage in attracting customers. The pandemic has made adjustments and delivery has become a necessary element to keep things going.
There are several ways to transfer an item to a customer. Generally speaking, ordered goods can be delivered:
- The seller’s own forces – using his own transport, his own couriers
- By an outsourced person (delivery outsourcing) – this can be a local delivery service that usually operates within a settlement (such as menu.by, delivio.by), a private courier service, post office or another carrier.
Each method has its own nuances. At first glance, there is nothing difficult in organizing them, but when the service is launched, unobvious legal nuances are revealed, missing which can nullify previous efforts.
In a few paragraphs, we will tell you what to remember when starting the delivery of goods.
- Couriers delivering food and catering establishments must have a medical certificate.
Along with other workers involved in the preparation and transfer of products, such as cooks, vendors, bartenders, waiters, a medical certificate of health with a mark of hygiene training is required.
The certificate is issued free of charge by a general practitioner. It must be in stock before starting work, even though couriers in most cases do not have direct contact with the product and receive it for delivery in consumer packaging.
The certificate is required both for couriers working for the company (IP) – the seller, and for couriers of a third-party delivery service. The lack of a certificate from the courier may result in a fine of up to 10 basic units (up to 290 Belarusian rubles – about $ 110).
- Not all products can be sold with delivery.
This is due to the prohibition of remote purchase by consumers – individuals of certain types of goods. So, it is forbidden to sell remotely and deliver to the buyer:
- Alcoholic, low alcohol drinks and beer
- Non-tobacco nicotine products, tobacco products, liquids for electronic smoking systems
- Biologically active food additives, veterinary drugs
- Poppy seeds
- Weapons and cartridges for it, fireworks for household use.
If we are talking about perishable food products and food products for the nutrition of athletes, remote sale of such products with delivery is allowed only in two cases:
1. If the seller has a retail facility.
2. If the seller is the manufacturer himself.
The list also includes medicines. However, in connection with the pandemic, an exception was made for OTC drugs and allowed some organizations (licensed to retail drugs) to distribute them (including via the Internet) with delivery. The “experimental” period was valid from April 26 to June 30, 2020, later the permit was reintroduced for the period until July 1, 2021.
It is also prohibited to sell jewelry via the Internet, but temporarily (for the period from April 12, 2021 to August 31, 2022) this ban was lifted. In 2020, the possibility of allowing online trade with the delivery of alcohol and tobacco products was discussed, but in the end, the regulator abandoned this idea.
Distance selling with the delivery of prohibited goods may result in a fine for a company of up to 500 basic units (up to 14,500 Belarusian rubles – about $ 5500), for individual entrepreneurs – up to 200 basic units (up to 5800 Belarusian rubles – about $ 2200), with confiscation of up to 100% of the income.
- The courier is not always entitled to accept payment by cash or bank card from buyers.
The limitation is due to the inability to accept payments in favor of third parties. Payments to third parties are not allowed in Belarus. This means that only full-time employees can accept payment in cash or by bank card at the seller’s cash desk. An out-of-state courier contractor may deliver and deliver goods to customers, but cannot accept payment from them.
The prohibition of payments in favor of third parties also applies to the operation of third-party services – they are not entitled to accept payments from buyers in favor of the seller. The only exceptions are postal operators who accept COD parcels for dispatch.
Separately, we note the peculiarity of working with local delivery services. Such services, as a rule, own an Internet site that aggregates the offers of sellers – trade and catering facilities, accept orders from buyers and pass them on to sellers, and, if necessary, provide sellers with delivery services within the settlement.
Local services generally do not require a license to operate. Examples are Menu.by, Delivio, Carte.by, Just-Eat, etc. In order for such services to accept payments from customers, you have to use intermediary schemes (for example, work under a commission agreement).
Acceptance of funds owed to the seller by a third party (courier-contractor, third-party service) may result in a third party fine of up to 500 base units (up to 14,500 Belarusian rubles – about $ 5,500) with confiscation of up to 100% of income, on the seller himself up to 200 basic units (up to 5800 Belarusian rubles – about $ 2200).
- Delivery of food and finished products must be carried out in accordance with special sanitary and hygienic requirements.
Delivery of any goods must be in accordance with technical, sanitary and other regulatory rules. For example, any cargo must be delivered in proper containers and packaging, and transport must be suitable for the delivery of goods, taking into account its type, weight, dimensions, form of transportation and other characteristics.
More stringent sanitary and hygienic requirements have been established for the delivery of food products and ready-made meals due to the high importance of the safety of these products for protecting the life and health of the population. Such goods should be delivered using special consumer and transport packaging (container, box, thermal container, cooler bag). And in the case of simultaneous transportation of food products and other goods, it is necessary to provide conditions that exclude their contact, pollution and changes in organoleptic properties.
If the delivery is outsourced, then the contractor must ensure compliance with sanitary and other requirements. Attention to this can be emphasized once again in the contract that formalizes the delivery of goods by a third-party supplier.
Violation of sanitary and epidemiological, hygienic requirements and procedures may result in a fine (including for the contracted carrier) of up to 500 basic units (up to 14,500 Belarusian rubles – about $ 5,500).
- Courier drivers are entitled to compensation.
We are talking about regular couriers who use their car when performing duties. In this case, the courier has the right to receive compensation for its depreciation (depreciation). The amount of compensation and how it will be paid is determined by the seller and the courier. They can also agree that the seller will reimburse the courier for other costs, such as fuel, oil, car repairs.
- Please be aware of the special consumer rights associated with delivery.
For example, an online store should place information on the methods and terms of delivery of goods, on the price and terms of its payment on the main page of the site, and if the store accepts payment in cash – and a sample of the check.
The seller must convey this information before accepting the order (the order is considered accepted at the moment when the buyer accepts the conditions offered by the seller – for example, ticks the box “I agree with the terms of the offer”, clicks the “Order” button, confirms the order by phone).
The buyer should be able to order goods for any amount, and the delivery terms – paid or free – should be negotiated additionally. Setting the minimum amount for which the goods must be ordered in order to be handed over with delivery is not allowed.
The place of delivery is indicated by the buyer. At the same time, the seller has the right to limit the delivery area or deliver the goods only to the pick-up point or postamat and unambiguously bring this information to the buyer.
When working with third-party services, including marketplaces and aggregator sites that collect offers from retailers, restaurants and cafes, both the seller and the third-party service are responsible for observing consumer rights.
When providing services related to the delivery of goods, it must be remembered that it is necessary to negotiate the conditions and cost of providing such services in advance, and if the services are paid, provide the buyer with the opportunity to refuse them.
For example, when delivering clothes from online stores, a courier may provide an opportunity to try them on. There are other options for additional services:
- Tracking the route of the cargo online in real time
- Online registration of documents for goods
- Preliminary calculation of the cost of delivery, taking into account the route and characteristics of the cargo
- SMS / email notification of delivery, etc.