Mail Order and Distance Selling – know the facts

If you’ve ever ordered a product or commissioned a service in this way, the seller has certain obligations, and you have certain rights which are worth knowing. Firstly, the supplier must provide you with pre-contractual information in respect of identity of the supplier, description of the main characteristics of the product or service, price, delivery costs, arrangements for delivery, performance and payment, cancellation rights, cost of communication (for e.g. premium rate telephone line), period of validity of offer, information regarding substitute products. This information must be communicated clearly, but not necessarily in writing, before your order is confirmed so that you can be in possession of all the facts should you wish to change your mind. Once you have made your order, you must then receive written confirmation of this order no later than the time of delivery of the product or performance of the service. If the supplier does not, he is not in breach, but must do so within 3 months. This is an important point, because the time you received written confirmation of your order has implications for the length of time in which you have to cancel.

Mail order and distance selling

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16 comments… add one
  • John Wilbraham 9 March, 4:04 pm

    I bought a pair of earrings for my wife from The Jewellery Channel via the catalogue on their website. In the catalogue they were CLEARLY shown ( photo ) as Screw fitting on the posts. When they arrived they were normal Butterfly post, I contacted their Helpline who told met to reurn them and they would modify them. I returned the item and after some time ( after Post Office tracking indicated they had been delivered ) I again contacted their Helpline, who informed me that I would be refunded eventually. I have been refunded for the item, plus postage charged. After all the inconvenience, heartache and being iformed that they would modify their ctalogue, What protection do I have and should I have been compensated.

  • m dawes 17 November, 8:34 am

    I purchased a fridge freezer on line from Currys. I have noticed that they have taken payment before dispatching the goods. I thought they could only take payment once the goods have been dispatched.

    • David Warburton 19 November, 10:44 am

      on 6th august 2014 I requested information on line from UK Land Registry Services (UKLRS) .They advised that some information might take 5 weeks to obtain. In the 6th week I posted a reminder to their po box no.
      No response, At 10 weeks I posted a letter stating that the requested info was no longer of use, adding that I would appreciate a full refund. No response. I posted a follow up letter. No response.
      I have noticed (on other complaint sites) that others have had similar experiences.
      Is there a law to help ?
      thank you
      David Warburton

  • Isobel Brooks 6 March, 7:13 pm

    On 17 Jan 2012 I brought a ‘free’ offer for RevitaDerm and PerfectRadiance. I paid postage of £5.99 and £5.85 for what was to be two items – but arrived in one package. Upon ordering the website played up and I did not receive an email confirmation nor would it download the terms and conditions. I initially thought the payment had not gone through. The products arrived in one package. Since then I have received nothing else and on checking my bank account today the company has taken over £440 in varying amounts. I have not received any additional products. Can anyone help with a working number for Revitalize Health & Beauty, West Lothian?

  • Joyce Foster 16 May, 3:10 pm

    Strange, as the company I dealt with was in West Lothian and returns were to be sent to a p.o. number in West Lothian. Could be same company trading under different names !

  • Samantha Davies 17 May, 8:48 pm


    My husband recently signed up to Lean Muscle X to try their ” free trail” that costs 1.99 , after receiving the item he then had 84.17 twice taken out of our account for the products ( as he trailed 2 products) . After ringing them they said they would not refund the money as it says in terms and conditions that he will be charged this and also he did not ing back to give feedback for these items. The terms and conditions are a very small tab on the bottom of the page and also the website says Free trail also the company is based in the US. Does any one have any advice please?

  • joanne 22 October, 2:21 pm

    I made a purchase on Saturday via online from a shoe shop, I ordered 2 pairs of boots which were said to be sale items reduced from 105 to 60, paid via PayPal and yesterday received a email stating the wrong price was advertised and that they will refund payment. Also I can purchase then at a goodwill gesture price of 90, is the well known shop allowd to do this as they took the money from my account for the amount they were selling at on the website. I have emails to prove purchase price and reciepts of what I paid. Thanks in advance for any advice. X

  • David Tighe 5 April, 9:44 am

    Am i covered by distance selling by if i booked a plane ticket online?
    I booked a ticket but the date is incorrect,and their is a dispute between me and the travel agent.
    D Tighe

  • Dave 21 April, 8:50 am

    Frankly, I don’t think this website offers anything of value. I read many comments and questions and even posted a question myself, but there is no interaction by an expert offering answers and advice. What information is available is just a mindless reiteration of the rules, which actually does’t help anyone who is trying to apply those rules to their own particular situation. Waste of time.

  • lynnyg 28 November, 12:41 pm

    I ordered £600 worth of goods online from argos. I didnt recieve the usual confirmation email you get so i checked my bank+£600 was indeed taken. I contacted Argos+they said the transaction was cancelled before it could go through therfore no money was taken out my account by them. I contacted my bank+they confirmed a payment was made to argos giving me the date, time+amount that was took out. Contacted argos again+they said i need to wait 2 weeks to see if the money goes into their account+then a further 11 days for them to transfer it back into my account. Am i entitled to compensation from them

  • Kat 29 November, 11:29 am

    I ordered a risk free trial product from leo skin care pluss postage etc, after which the terms and conditions seemed to be somewhere in sight. Having read them and seeing if you didn’t cancel the order they would bill you for £84 I think it was. I immediately cancelled the order via email within a few minutes of having placed the order. The email I sent cancelling was apparently disregarded as a few minutes later I received a welcoming letter with details of the products being processed for sending. Also when I ordered the risk free trail I gave my bank details, visa debit card number for postage but saw after that they asked for visa credit card number. I thought it was strange my name as on my bank card wasn’t asked as I usually have to fill that in exactly or payment doesn’t go through. Any tips or advice about what I should do, like make sure there is no money on my bank account or can’t they get it any way as I don’t have an overdraft?

  • kate 19 January, 3:37 pm


    I purchased a pair of jeans from an online retailer in December 2014 and they didn’t fit. I notified the retailer within two days of receiving the jeans that they were not suitable but they rejected my returns request saying that I had only one week from the ORDER DATE to request a return (exact statement from their terms and conditions are copied below). This makes it almost impossible for overseas customers to return goods, as in most cases, they will not have received thee item within one week or ordering. (Incidentally, the company didn’t ship the item until two days after I ordered)

    This can’t be compliant with consumer law?

    I have made many attempts to resolve the issue directly with the retailer, including citing consumer regulations. They refuse to allow me to return the jeans though. Can you advise me on what to do next?

    Also, FYI, I live in Ireland but the retailer is based in the UK.

    “Items can be returned for a refund, exchange or credit note but any requests to return a product after 7 days of the order date or without all tags attached are discretionary and a R.A.N. may not be issued.”

  • mia hobbs 20 June, 4:07 pm

    I have ordered garden furniture which guaranteed delivery in 5 days (unless out of stock in which case delivery was guaranteed within 14 days) They took the money from my credit card and confirmed the order saying that their delivery team would be in touch.
    7 weeks later following several e mails and phone calls they have today confirmed that they cannot deliver until the beginning of August –no date given!!
    They have increased the price of the furniture on their web site and are offering me either to wait , a refund of the price i paid or a more expensive option with a minimal discount —– what are my rights does anyone know

  • Fiona 16 February, 11:39 pm

    Dear Sirs. I ordered an item from a business, via eBay, in early December and unfortunately the plaque on the wooden box was faulty. I contacted the seller and they replaced the box (not the contents as theye were undamaged). I was told to keep hold of the faulty box. Now, after 60 days+, the vendor has messaged, saying they want the faulty box back. I disposed of this as I assumed it was rubbish. The company is now demanding that I pay for it. Whilst it is not a great del of money, in principle I do not believe I should have to pay if they did not indicate that I should return the box when I contacted them.
    While right here please?

  • lorraine nichol 9 January, 10:46 am

    I click on an advert on Facebook for an eyelash enhancing product – to get into the website I had to supply my name and address – once I found out the price I came out of the website. About 4 weeks later I received an e-mail saying the goods had been despatched. I told them I hadn’t ordered anything but they said by entering their website I completed an order and chose to pay on delivery! They said it was too late to cancel the order.

    I have not received the goods but they are continuing to hound me for payment with late payment charges. They have asked me to sign a ‘legal document’ to prove I haven’t received the goods so that they can investigate the matter. I have refused to sign the form because it states that I ordered goods from them. They will not accept the form with modifications (the statement regarding the order crossed out).

    They are now saying that because I will not take up the solution they have offered me they will continue to chase for payment and will take legal action against me.

  • Jane 30 January, 6:38 pm

    Purchased a divan base and mattress on line. Requested a superking 6′ base as per the picture on their site. When it arrived the configuration of the two pieces were not as shown on the website and there was no mention anywhere on the site to say that this base would be different because of its size. The manufacturer is denying responsibility as is the internet shop. I now have a bed base which, although fit for use and not faulty, is not what I ordered. What can I do about this?