Until recently, the Doorstep Selling Regulations only covered contracts which were made in the consumer’s home or place of work as a result of a cold call or an unsolicited visit. New Regulations (The Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc Regulations 2008) have recently come into force which extend these rights for all contracts over £35.00, irrespective of whether they were made through unsolicited or pre-arranged visits with the trader or rep. The Regulations aim to protect anyone who may have entered into an agreement as a result of undue pressure, by allowing you a cooling off period of 7 calendar days during which time you have the right to cancel. Although, there is another advantage in that it also enables you to go away and compare alternatives.
You may also invoke your rights under these regulations if you have offered to buy something or commission a service from at a presentation of some kind, where business is taking place away from the organisation’s usual business premises. Incidentally, this includes signing up for a timeshare in the resort itself, where this is away from the offices of the timeshare company. It is also the case even when contracts are concluded at a later date, back at the trader’s shop of office – the fact that you have made your offer away from here is the important thing.
The Seller’s Obligations
With any contract or sale made in this way, you must be sure you have been presented with clear written notice of your 7 day right to cancel, at or before the time the contract is made. If you have not, the contract is legally unenforceable, even if a deposit has been paid. This notice, which cannot be in the form of small print, or otherwise disguised, must also provide a cancellation form and advise you on how and to whom a notice of cancellation is to be made. Any related credit agreements will also be cancelled. .
Where you have no cooling off period
If you are commissioning a service and work starts before the end of the 7 days, your cooling off period also comes to an end. But (and this is a very big but!), you must have been advised in writing and you must have agreed to it before the work commenced. If no notice was provided, the company may have acted unlawfully.
Contracts for certain goods and services do not have a cooling off period, even though they were concluded at your home or place of work.
- Goods and services relating to a funeral
- Goods which are personalised or made to a personal specification
- Perishable goods, or those which are consumer buy their use and cannot be returned
- Goods supplied to meet an emergency
- Newspapers, periodicals or magazines
- Goods whose price is dependent on fluctuations in financial markets
- The supply of goods to meet an emergency
How to cancel
Similar to the Distance Selling Regulations, you are able to cancel the contract at any time within 7 days from the time the written notice (of your right to cancel) was given to you by the trader. You can either use the cancellation form which should have been provided, or a simple written notice, as long as it is clear of your intentions. Emails are now recognised forms of written notice. With regard to sending your notice to cancel by post, as long as it has been posted before the end of the 7 days, it doesn’t matter when it is actually received. For this reason, it is always advisable to send it recorded delivery.