Buying by internet, phone and mail order distance contracts explained

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1 Buying by internet, phone and mail order distance contracts explained Traders must comply with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 when they sell goods, services and digital content without face-to-face contact with consumers. These are called 'distance' contracts. You have the right to cancel most distance contracts and the cancellation period is 14 days. Traders must give you certain information before they make a contract with you. They must get your clear agreement if they want to charge you for 'extras'. Telephone helplines must only be charged at the basic rate. There are clear rules on delivery and the point at which you become responsible for the goods. If the trader sends you 'unsolicited' goods (goods that you have not ordered) you can keep them and you do not have to pay for them. These regulations also cover 'on premises' contracts (when you buy from a trader at their business premises) and 'off premises' contracts (for example when you buy at home or at your place of work). The rights you have when goods are faulty or services are below standard still apply. In this guide: Which types of contract do the regulations apply to? Which contracts don't the regulations apply to? Information the trader must give you Contracts you can't cancel Your right to cancel the contract Additional payments under the contract Telephone helpline charges Delivery of goods When are you responsible for the goods? Inertia selling 'Off premises' and 'on premises' contracts What about faulty goods and poor service? CA68 08/14 1

2 Which types of contract do the regulations apply to? The contract you have with the trader will fall into one of the categories of contract listed below: sales contracts - contracts for the sale of goods, such as household goods and contracts for the supply of goods with services, such as mobile phones with airtime. service contracts - contracts for the supply of services only, such as soft play centres, launderettes and golf lessons. digital content - contracts for data which is produced and supplied in a digital form, such as music, apps or film downloads Which contracts don't the regulations apply to? Not all sales, service and digital content contracts are covered by these regulations but you will have rights under other legislation. The excluded contracts are: gambling including lotteries services of a banking, credit, insurance, personal pension, investment or payment nature construction and sale of immoveable property rental of residential accommodation construction of new buildings or substantially new buildings by the conversion of existing buildings supply of food, drink and other such consumables by a trader on regular rounds to your home, residence or workplace package travel, holidays and tours timeshare, long-term holiday products, resale and exchange contracts goods sold from automatic vending machines contracts concluded by you from a public phone and via one single connection by phone, internet or fax goods sold by authority of law Information the trader must give you When you buy goods, services or digital content under a distance contract - where you and the trader are not face-to-face when the contract is made - you are entitled to expect that the trader provides you with certain information, as set out below, in a clear and understandable way before you enter into the contract. 2

3 Main characteristics of the goods, services or digital content. Identity of the trader or trading name, geographical address and telephone number. An address you can complain to (only required if it is different to the geographical address) and details of any complaint handling policy. If the trader is a member of an out of court complaint and redress scheme, they must give you the details. Details of costs - all additional delivery charges*, total costs per billing period/monthly costs for open-ended or subscription contracts* and the cost of using the type of distance communication to finalize the contract for example if there was an extra charge for buying by phone rather than online, if it is charged at more than the basic rate. If the trader wants you to pay to return the goods when you cancel they need to inform you*. Arrangements for payment, delivery, performance and how long it will take to deliver the goods, to perform the services or to supply the digital content. The length of the contract and, if it is an openended contract or one that is extended automatically, how you can cancel it. Where applicable the trader must inform you if there is a minimum duration of the contract. Cancellation requirements - the time limit and procedures for cancelling. If you ask the trader to start a service contract within the cancellation period and then decide to cancel you may have to pay reasonable costs for the service you have received. If you have a right to cancel, a cancellation form must be provided. In sales contracts (sale of goods and supply of goods along with a service) the trader must remind you that they are required by law to supply goods that are in conformity with the contract (not faulty). Details of any after-sales customer assistance/services and guarantees as well as details of any relevant codes of conduct and how copies can be obtained. If you are required to pay a deposit or financial guarantee you must be given the details. Digital content functionality including any technical protection measures and any relevant compatibility of digital content with hardware and software. * If the trader does not give you this information you do not have to pay those charges After the contract is made, you must be given confirmation of the contract in a durable form (such as paper or ) which includes all the information listed above. If the trader gave you this information 3

4 before the contract was concluded, they don't have to give you it again. This information forms part of the contract that you have with the trader. If the trader changes the information, either before you make the contract or at a later stage, it does not take effect unless you and the trader have clearly agreed that it will. When you complete a contract electronically and it places you under an obligation to pay, the trader must make sure you are aware of this, for instance by using 'order with obligation to pay' or similar wording at the point where you click to pay. If they don't then the contract is not legally binding on you. Check the website to see if there are any delivery restrictions and which methods of payment the trader accepts. If the trader rings you to complete the contract they must first give their identity and the reason for their call. Note that this part of the regulations does not apply to NHS medicinal products or services, passenger transport contracts. Contracts you can't cancel There are certain contracts that you do not have the right to cancel under these regulations. You should check the list below before assuming you have cancellation rights: NHS medicinal products or services passenger transport services supply of goods or services (not water, gas, electricity or district heating) where the price depends on fluctuations in the financial market beyond the control of the trader supply of goods that have been made to your specification or clearly personalised, such as a photograph printed onto a t-shirt supply of goods which would deteriorate rapidly, such as fresh flowers supply of alcohol, such as investment wines and spirits, where the contract price is fixed, delivery is after 30 days and the value depends on fluctuations of the market contracts where you request a visit from a trader to carry out urgent repairs or maintenance supply of newspapers, periodicals or magazines. You still have a right to cancel subscriptions contracts for such items. contracts made at a public auction. Internet auction sites are not 'public auctions' as defined in the regulations so they must give you cancellation rights 4

5 supply of accommodation, transport of goods, vehicle rental, catering or services related to leisure activities if the contract states when the service has to be performed Take note that if you unseal goods after delivery that must remain sealed for health or hygiene reasons, unseal audio, video or computer software after delivery or mix goods with other goods after delivery so that they are inseparable (such as mixing sand with cement), you lose your right to cancel the contract. Your right to cancel the contract You do not have the same opportunity to inspect goods, services or digital content when you buy at a distance as you would if you bought on business premises so the regulations give you the right to cancel a contract at any time and for any reason within the cancellation period. You also have the right to withdraw your offer to buy before the contract is made. Type of Contract Sales contract - goods including goods supplied with a service Sales contract - multiple goods in one order but delivered on different days Sales contract - goods consisting of multiple lots or pieces delivered on different days Sales contract - regular delivery of goods over a set period that is longer that one day Service contract Cancellation Period 14 days after the day you (or the person such as a neighbour with whom you have an arrangement) takes possession of the goods 14 days after the day you (or the person such as a neighbour with whom you have an arrangement) takes possession of the last of the goods 14 days after the day you (or the person such as a neighbour with whom you have an arrangement) takes possession of the last of the lots or pieces 14 days after the day you (or the person such as a neighbour with whom you have an arrangement) takes possession of the first of the goods 14 days after the day on which the contract was made 5

6 Type of Contract Digital content not supplied on tangible medium (downloads etc.) Cancellation Period 14 days after the day on which the contract was made (Unless you asked for the download to be started within this period, you knew they would lose your right to cancel and the trader provided this information as part of the contract confirmation.) If the trader does not provide you with information on your cancellation rights, the cancellation period can be extended by up to 12 months depending on if/when the information was provided. You have the right to withdraw an offer to make a contract, or cancel a contract during the cancellation period by informing the trader of your intentions. You can use the cancellation form provided by the trader if you wish. You are entitled to a refund of all payments including payment for, or equivalent to, the cost of basic delivery. This should be within 14 days or, if you are returning goods, 14 days from when the trader received the goods back from you. If you can provide evidence to show that you returned the goods, you can obtain your refund earlier. The trader must collect the goods after cancellation if they agreed to do so otherwise you are responsible for returning them within 14 days from cancellation. Unless the trader has agreed to pay the return costs, you must do so but the trader is required to inform you of this. The trader is not allowed to charge you a cancellation fee. You are entitled to check the goods to make sure you are happy with their nature, characteristics and function but if the trader believes you have used them more than was necessary to decide if they were suitable, they may be able to claim compensation from you up to the contract price. For example taking a toaster out of its box and testing it. Try to treat goods like you would in a shop. How would you inspect them in a shop before you bought them? There are times when you may want the trader to start a service straight away. Under these circumstances, the trader must inform you that you lose your right to cancel once the contract has been performed (this does not apply to utility contracts). If the service has not been completed and you cancel within the cancellation period, you will have to pay for the part of the service that the trader has carried out. If goods were supplied with a service, you would have the right to return the goods if you cancelled within the cancellation period but you may be liable to pay some or all of the service costs. 6

7 If you withdraw or cancel a contract in most cases any ancillary contract (contract that is connected to the main contract) is automatically terminated at no cost to you. Additional payments under the contract If the trader offers you an 'extra' that is linked to the main contract, such as gift wrapping or special delivery, they must always get your clear agreement to charge you for it. These means that the trader cannot have a pre-ticked box in an order form, for example, that you have to 'un-tick' to avoid payment. If you did not agree, you will not have to pay and if you have paid, you are entitled to claim a refund. Telephone helpline charges If the trader provides a telephone helpline for you to contact them about the goods or service you have bought, they can only charge you the 'basic rate' numbers beginning with the prefix for example 01, 02, 03 or 07. This means the normal geographic or mobile rate. If the trader charges you more than the basic rate, you are entitled to reclaim the extra from them. Delivery of goods The trader must deliver the goods to you unless you have agreed otherwise. The goods must be delivered without undue delay or in any event not more than 30 days after the day on which you entered the contract. This does not prevent you and the trader from agreeing your own arrangements for delivery but you should ensure this arrangement is written into the contract. If: the trader refuses to deliver the goods the period for delivery was an essential part of the contract, for example you needed the goods for an event and you advised the trader of this when you contracted, taking account all relevant circumstances, which the trader failed to meet, or you told the trader before you entered into the contract, that the period for delivery was essential, and they failed to meet it you make time of the essence for delivery,(you set a date) usually in writing, and the trader fails to deliver by that time you are entitled to cancel the contract and claim a full refund. If you order multiple goods from the trader and some of them are not delivered on time or not at all, you have an alternative to ending the 7

8 contract. You can cancel the order for any of the goods or reject goods that have been delivered. The trader must refund you for the part of the order you cancelled or for the goods you rejected. Where goods form part of a 'commercial unit', for example a set of cutlery, you cannot cancel part of the order, you have to cancel the whole order. These regulations do not prevent you from seeking other remedies for late delivery if you so wish. When are you responsible for the goods? You become responsible for the goods when you, or a person identified by you to take delivery, takes actual possession of them. Until that time, the trader is responsible for them even if they use a carrier. If you organise your own carrier, then the trader is only responsible for the goods until your carrier takes possession of them. Inertia selling If a trader sends you unsolicited goods, you are entitled to keep them as an unconditional gift and do not have to pay for them. Inertia selling is a banned practice under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 'Off premises' and 'on premises' contracts These regulations also deal with a trader's obligations when they sell away from their business premises such as in your home (off premises contracts) and when they sell from their business premises (including mobile premises). Please see our 'Buying 'on premises' - what you should know' (http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/images/ca67_tcm pdf) and 'Buying at Home - 'off premises' contracts explained' (http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/images/ca66_tcm pdf) leaflets for more information. What about faulty goods and poor service? The regulations described above are in addition to the rights you have when you buy goods or services. You are entitled to expect that goods are of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose and that services are carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time (if no time limit is agreed) and at a reasonable charge (if no price is agreed). Please see our 'Buying goods - your rights' (http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/images/ca04_tcm pdf) and 8

9 'Buying services - your rights' (http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/images/ca05_tcm pdf) leaflets for more information. Relevant legislation Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/3134/contents/made) Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/870/contents/made) Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2008/1277/contents/made) Sale of Goods Act 1979 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/54/contents) Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1982/29/contents) Where can I get further help? This leaflet is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended only for guidance. Any legislation referred to, while still current, may have been amended from the form in which it was originally enacted. For further information, please contact Citizens Advice. The Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on If you are a business, contact us by any of the following methods: Derbyshire Trading Standards Service Chatsworth Hall Chesterfield Road Matlock Derbyshire DE4 3FW Telephone: Call Derbyshire Fax: Website: 9

10 We want everyone to be able to understand us. On request, we will arrange: Language interpreters, including for sign language Translation of written materials into other languages Materials in large print, on tape or in Braille. Trading Standards Institute To ensure that you are looking at the most up-to-date version of this leaflet, please visit our website at or telephone us on

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