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Your rights to a cooling off period to return goods or cancel services

publication date: May 26, 2012
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author/source: Dean Dunham
Dean DunhamGenerally speaking you are unable to return goods to the seller unless they are faulty or not fit for purpose. However, under certain circumstances, you are given the right to cancel over a specific period of time. This is known as your "cooling off period" and the duration of this period depends on what you bought and the manner in which you bought it.

When does the cooling off period apply?

The cooling off period applies in the following situations:

1.         When you buy online from shops or suppliers

If you purchase goods or services online, by phone or by mail order your purchase is generally subject to the Distance Selling Regulations. One of the key provisions under these regulations is a "cooling off period" of 7 days during which you have the right to return the goods or cancel the services that you have purchased.

If you have bought a service under a distance selling contract and commencement of the service begins before the end of the seven days cancellation period, then you give up your right to cancel.

2.         Buying away from the trader's normal place of business.

You also have the right to return the goods or cancel a service within seven days if i) you pay more than £35.00 for the goods or services and ii) you purchase from a seller who sells you the goods or services from a location other than their usual place of business (ie: at an exhibition etc).

3.         Buying from a doorstep seller

Again, you have the right to return the goods or cancel a service within seven days if i) you pay more than £35.00 for the goods or services and ii) you buy something from a trader as a result of a visit to your home or place of work (whether or not the visit was requested by you). In these circumstances you will be protected by what is known as the Doorstep Selling.

Are there any exceptions?

You will not have the right to cancel and therefore do not have a cooling off period with the purchase of the following goods:
  • Goods made to a personalised specification
  • Audio/video recordings or software where the seal has been broken
  • Newspapers, magazines or other reading material (this does not include books)
  • Gaming, betting, lottery tickets/bets
  • Accommodation, transport, catering or leisure services
  • Package travel
  • Food, drinks or other goods delivered regularly to the consumer's home or workplace by a "regular roundsman" such as a milkman or domestic oil supplier
  • Goods that are perishable or can't be returned, such as frozen food and fresh flowers
  • Services that begin, by agreement, before the end of the cooling-off period
 
What do I do if I want to take advantage of the cooling off period?

You must inform the seller in writing, by letter, fax or email of your decision to cancel the service or return the goods.

If you have any queries about your consumer rights visit Dean Dunham's website