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Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 were brought in on the 31st October 2000 to implement the EC Distance Selling Directive in the UK. The Regulations cover sales made at a distance between businesses and consumers, such as the following:

  1. Mail order, catalogue shopping

  2. Internet sales

  3. Digital TV sales

  4. Phone

  5. Fax

Right to Cancel – "Cooling Off Period"

The main part of the Regulations is the right for the customer to change their mind and cancel an order, (and any credit agreement taken out as part of the order). This is known as a "Cooling Off Period" and allows the consumer to cancel within 7 working days by informing the business in writing.

  1. Goods – The 7 working days runs from the day after the goods are received.

  2. Services – The 7 working days runs from the day after the consumer agreed to proceed with the contract.

An order may also be cancelled before the goods are received.

Right to Cancel – Related Matters

The following matters relate to any cancellation:

  1. If the business does not provide the customer with information relating to their right to cancel, the cancellation period of 7 working days does not apply, a longer period will apply.

  2. The customer must take care of the goods and return them to the business, (he/she may have to pay for the costs of returning the goods) or make them available for collection.

  3. If the customer has paid in advance, the business must refund their money within 30 days.

  4. If the customer has paid for the goods using a related credit agreement suggested and arranged by the business (includes hire purchase), the credit agreement will automatically be cancelled.

Business Information

The business selling the goods must provide the following information to the customer prior to the customer making a purchase:

  1. the full name of the business;

  2. the full postal address of the business if payment is required before receiving the goods;

  3. the total price of the goods including Value Added Tax;

  4. where applicable, the cost of delivery;

  5. details of how payment should be made;

  6. arrangements for delivery (must be within 30 days of the order unless the order specifies otherwise);

  7. the customer's right to cancel the order and whether the customer pays the cost of returning the goods;

  8. how long an offer or price remains valid.

If the contract is for a service provided over a period, the minimum length of the contract must be specified. For example, a mobile phone contract with a minimum contract period of 12 months.

Excluded Services

The Regulations do not apply to the following services:

  1. Auctions

  2. Contracts for the sale of land

  3. Financial services

  4. Pay phones

  5. Vending machines

Excluded Goods & Services

Even if the business is not one of the above, the right to cancel under the Regulations does not apply to the following goods or services:

  1. any service provided within the 7 day cooling-off period, once the actual service has commenced. However, the customer must be informed in writing that he/she does not have the right to cancel before the contract is formed;

  2. goods made to the customer’s personal specifications or personalised for him/her. For example, engraved iPods;

  3. goods that cannot be returned due to their perishable nature, such as food and flowers;

  4. audio or video recordings or software which has had its seal broken and has been opened, or the same such content in a digital download / electronic form;

  5. magazines, newspapers or periodicals; betting, gaming or lottery services.

This should not be relied upon for legal advice. If you would like any further information or advice please email richard@clariclegal.co.uk.

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