Doorstep Selling Regulations

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The Doorstep Selling Regulations

1st October 2008:

New rights protecting people from high-pressure doorstep sales have been welcomed today by Citizens Advice. The national charity was responsible for the original ‘super complaint’* to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that led to the new safeguards.

The Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer's home or place of work etc Regulations (2008) give you protection when you buy goods or services from a trader on the doorstep or in the home (or in someone else's home), at your place of work, or when you buy from a trader on an excursion they have arranged away from their business premises.

If you change your mind about a purchase above the value of £35, you have at least seven calendar days to cancel the contract (the 'cooling-off' period). It does not matter whether you invited a trader into your home or not - the Regulations cover both solicited (invited) and unsolicited (uninvited visits or 'cold calling').

A trader must advise you in writing that you can cancel the contract – this information must usually be set out in your contract and should be legible and have equal prominence to any other part of the agreement. If there is no written contract, you must still be given this information in writing at the time you agree.

If you are not given this information in writing the trader can't hold you to anything in the contract. The trader may also be guilty of a criminal offence, and may be investigated by your local authority Trading Standards Service.

If you decide to have work done, or to receive goods, within the 7 day cooling-off period, you should give your agreement in writing. But be careful. If you have given this written agreement for any services or any of these goods:

* goods supplied to meet an emergency

* goods that are personalised or made to your specification

* goods whose price is dependent on fluctuations in financial markets

* perishable goods

* goods which by their nature are consumed by use and cannot be returned

* goods that have become incorporated into land, or something else

* goods or services relating to a funeral

and then you decide to cancel within the cooling-off period, you will have to pay for the work done so far or the goods you have received.

If you have not given your written agreement to receive services or any of these goods within the cooling-off period, then you are not required to pay if you decide to cancel within the cooling-off period. At the same time, in the above circumstances the trader does not have to start work if you have not given your written agreement.

If the goods you have bought do not fall within any of these categories, then whether you gave your consent to delivery during the cooling-off period or not, you are not obliged to pay if you decide to cancel within the cooling-off period.

To cancel a contract you must:

* cancel in writing and post (or deliver in person), or email the trader. A cancellation form for you to use should be provided by the trader, though you do not have to use this

* do this within 7 days of signing the contract

You should also:

* keep proof of cancellation: if posting – send by recorded delivery, keep the delivery slip and keep a copy of your cancellation. If emailing, keep a copy of the email

* remember that cancellation is effective on the day you post, deliver or email your cancellation – not the day the trader receives it.

Once the contract has been cancelled it will be treated as though it had not been made. The trader should repay any money that you have paid, including any deposit.

You must restore any goods to the trader (unless you have been required to pay for them, for example, because they have been consumed) and take care of them before you do so. You have to bear the expense of returning the goods. You are not required to return goods until you have received your money back.

If you agreed to buy the goods or services through a related credit agreement (that is, where credit for those goods or services is provided by the trader, or where the trader arranges credit with another provider) and you cancel the contract, any related credit agreement will automatically be cancelled except for your duty to repay the credit.

In these circumstances, if you cancel the contract, no interest will be due if the credit is repaid within one month of cancellation or before the first instalment is due.

These regulations do not apply to:

  • contracts for mortgages or home purchase plans or home revision plans made during a solicited visit
  • agreements that are cancellable under the Consumer Credit Act 1974
  • solicited contracts for regulated consumer credit agreements under the Act
  • contracts for the construction, sale or rental of property (but they do apply to extensions, patios, conservatories or driveways and to repairs, refurbishment and improvement of property)
  • insurance contracts
  • contracts for food and drink supplied by regular roundsmen
  • contracts under £35
  • contracts relating to shares and investments, and
  • catalogue orders where there is a notice showing the right to return goods or cancel the contract.