Is mail order stuff any different?
Absolutely. It’s highly likely that at some point you will have bought something over the phone or on the internet, and unlike buying something in a shop, it’s a situation whereby you are not physically face to face with the supplier. What we are talking about here are the Distance Selling Regulations and it’s important to be clear on what they cover and whether you can benefit from the protection they offer UK consumers.
Distance selling contracts are those which are concluded (you making your order and the retailer / e-tailer confirming your order) exclusively by ‘means of distance communication’. They cover websites, mail order catalogues and all advertising literature (whether addressed or junk mail) and broadcasts communicated via post, email, the internet, fax, TV or telephone (including pre-recorded messages). If you have physically met face to face at any point, or if it is with a shop which doesn’t make a habit of selling in this way, you won’t be covered and should look to Sale of Goods legislation instead.
Under the distance selling regulations, the goods must be delivered or the service carried out within the time period they have specified. If no time period is specified, then the statutory time limit is 30 days (unless you have agreed otherwise). If the supplier is unable to fulfil their obligations within 30 days, they must inform you before the end of the 30 day deadline. They may offer you an alternative date for delivery, but you are under no obligation to accept and are quite within your rights to ask for a full refund.
Traders must provide you with specific information in regard to their obligations and your rights before you confirm your order. This is called pre-contractual (or prior) information and is dealt with in the next section, along with information about invoking your cooling off rights, returns, refunds and replacements.
If you are fed up of junk mailings, phone calls etc, you should also check out the section on the Data Protection Act for more info.
- Know all the facts before you decide!
- Your right to cancel
- Returns and refunds
- Protection against card fraud for mail order goods and services
- I’ve been sent stuff I never ordered!
- Problems with deliveries and collections