|Home Shopping -
Your Rights as a Consumer
If you shop for goods or
services by telephone, mail order, fax, digital television, or on
the internet, you now have new consumer rights to:
- clear information
- a cooling-off period
- protection for your credit card
These new rules apply to almost all
types of home shopping. For example, if you order clothing from a
catalogue or newspaper advertisement, if you buy CDs or a minidisc
player on the internet, or if you phone to arrange gas or
electricity supply to your home.
The new rules do not apply to:
- financial services
- vending machines and pay-phones
- contracts for the sale of land
Parts of the new regulations do
not apply to:
- deliveries of goods such as food
- transport, accommodation,
catering or leisure services provided on specific dates
Before you decide to buy,
the seller must give you
the following information:
- the seller's name and, if you
have to pay in advance, his/her postal address
- a description of the goods or
- the price including all taxes
- delivery costs where they apply
- arrangements for payment
- arrangements for delivery
(normally within 30 days unless the contract says otherwise)
- the right to cancel the order
and whether you will be responsible for the cost of returning
- for services, the minimum
duration of the contract if the service will be provided over a
period of time (for example, mobile phone contracts often
specify a one-year minimum agreement)
- how long the offer or the price
If someone calls you on the
telephone to sell you goods or services, (s)he must clearly identify
at the beginning of the conversation the name of the company (s)he
represents and the fact that they are selling something.
After you buy,
the seller should send you written confirmation (by letter, e-mail,
fax, etc.) of your order and include the information listed above,
unless this has already been provided in written form - such as in a
catalogue or an advertisement. Only the last item in the list above
does not have to be confirmed in writing.
The seller should also provide written information on when and how
you can cancel, a postal address where you can contact him/her, and
details of any after-sales services and guarantees.
If a service agreement has no specified finish date or lasts more
than one year, for example a telephone, gas or electricity supply
contract, you must also be sent details about when and how you can
end the contract.
You should have all this information at the latest by the time that
the goods are delivered or, in the case of services, before or soon
after the start of the contract.
Cooling Off Period
If you change your mind
The law gives you seven
working days to change your mind and cancel an order (and any
related credit agreement). There are some exceptions.
If you decide to cancel you need to inform the seller within the
time limits shown below. This should be in writing (you may use the
PDF cancellation form here,
and download the PDF Acrobat Reader © software here),
by fax or by e-mail. A telephone call is not enough. The time limits
- goods - seven working days after
the day on which you receive them
- services - seven working days
after the day on which you agreed to go ahead with the contract
If you have not been provided with
the information relating to your right to a cooling-off period, the
cancellation period will be longer.
Remember that you must take care of the goods and either return them
to the seller (or his/her representative) or make them available to
If you have paid in advance, the seller must refund your money
within 30 days. You may have to pay for the cost of returning the
If you have paid for the goods by a credit agreement, including hire
purchase, that was arranged or suggested by the seller, this
agreement will be automatically cancelled.
In some special cases you do not have the right to a cooling-off
Some special cases for which you do not have a right to cancel
provided within seven working days: if you agree that you want a
service to begin before the end of the cooling-off period you
will not be entitled to cancel once that service has started.
But you must be informed in writing before you make the contract
that you will not be able to cancel, otherwise you will have the
same legal rights to a cooling-off period as for other service
made to your personal specifications
which by reason of their nature cannot be returned or are liable
to deteriorate rapidly (eg. flowers or fresh foods)
audio or video recordings or computer software which you have
periodicals or magazines
- Betting, gaming or lottery
Protection for Your Credit Card
The Regulations make it safer for
you to use your credit card or other payment card on the internet,
over the phone or for other types of home shopping. If someone else
makes dishonest or fraudulent use of your payment card for any form
of home shopping you can cancel the payment and the card issuer must
refund the money to your account.
The card issuer will want you to tell them as soon as possible if
your card has been lost or stolen or if you find out that someone
has used your card details dishonestly.
Where to Get Help
This page is a simplified statement
of the law and does not replace the provisions of the Regulations.
For more advice on your rights contact your local Citizens Advice
Bureau. You can find their address and telephone number in the phone
You can get online advice from the National Association of Citizens
Advice Bureaux website at www.adviceguide.org.uk,
the Office of Fair Trading at www.oft.gov.uk
or look at the DTI's Consumer Gateway website at www.consumer.gov.uk.
If you think the seller has not complied with the law you should
first of all complain to him/her or to his/her trade association if
they belong to one.
If you have a complaint that you feel has not been resolved by the
seller or any of the complaints mechanisms offered, contact your
local Trading Standards Department or the Office of Fair Trading.
You'll find the address and telephone number of your local Trading
Standards Department in the phone book under 'Local Authority', or
on the internet by visiting www.tradingstandards.gov.uk
and entering your postcode.
You can contact the Office of Fair Trading on their consumer phone
line 08457 22 44 99, through their website, which is given above, or
in writing to:
The Office of Fair Trading,
2-6 Salisbury Square,
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