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Distance Selling Regulations

Distance Selling Regulations

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000

These regulations require consumer’s to be given cancellation rights and information about goods or services bought at a distance e.g. online, mail order or TV shopping channels or over the phone.

Some goods and services aren’t covered by the regulations altogether (including contracts for the sale of land or construction of buildings and items bought from vending machines or auctions).

Cancellation rights:

Goods

For goods bought at a distance, you usually have a right to cancel your order anytime from the moment you place the order until seven working days from the day after you receive the goods.

Regardless of what a trader may say the timeframe above is for stating that you want to cancel and not the timeframe for actually getting the goods back to them.

There are items you can't return if you change your mind including:

  • CDs, DVDs or software if you've broken the seal on the wrapping
  • perishable and other items that deteriorate rapidly such as food and flowers, and
  • tailor-made or personalised goods.
  • Newspapers and magazines.

Services

When you buy services at a distance, you usually have from the moment you place the order until seven working days from the day after you placed that order to let the seller know you want to cancel. In both instances the cancellation should be sent in writing (an email counts.)

There are some contracts for services you can’t cancel, simply because you change your mind, these include:

  • Contracts for leisure and transport services to be provided on a specific date e.g. hotel bookings, flights, car hire and concert and other event tickets.
  • Contracts for services where you agreed to the service starting before the 7 working days had expired (as long as the seller has also provided you with all the information set out above).

You can waive your right to cancel if you want the service to start straight away.

The Regulations set out the minimum cancellation rights a consumer must be given and traders often go beyond this so it’s always worth checking the sellers terms and conditions to see what their returns policy is.

information requirements

The seller must give you certain information before you decide whether to buy including a description of the goods or service, their price, information about the trader, delivery and any cancellation rights. The way the trader gives this information will depend on the means of communication e.g. if it’s a phone order they can give it by phone, or if it’s online it can be given electronically.  

Once an order has been placed, there is a further requirement to give information which includes details of how to exercise any right to cancel and who is responsible for the cost of returning goods.

If the seller has failed to comply with the requirements to provide information set out above your right to cancel doesn’t end until 7 working days from the day after the seller complies (up to a maximum of 3 months and 7 working days from when you placed your order).

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