Distance selling: new rights for consumers

Regulations coming into force on 31 October give consumers major new rights where contracts are concluded at a distance, for example by mail order, over the internet, by telephone or by fax.

The main points are as follows:

  1. Detailed information (see below) must be given before the consumer decides to buy, in good time prior to conclusion of the contract.
  2. This and other information must be given in writing or other durable form no later than the time of delivery of goods, or before services have been fully performed.
  3. Consumers have an unconditional right to cancel orders for goods or services, normally within seven working days after the date of delivery for goods or within seven working days after the date on which the consumer agreed to go ahead with a contract for services.
  4. If an order is cancelled the seller must refund the money no later than 30 days after receiving notice of the decision to cancel.  The seller can only charge for the cost of recovering the goods.

The new rules do not apply to some contracts relating to property, nor do they apply to financial services or auctions.  Some rules do not apply to deliveries of food or beverages or to accommodation, transport, catering or leisure services to be provided on specific dates.

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 can be downloaded here.

Bulletins are for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters. Where reference is made to Court decisions facts referred to are those reported as found by the Court. Please note that past bulletins included in the Archive have not been updated by any subsequent changes in statute or case law.