Distance selling: your right to cancel

One of the most important implications of the distance selling regulations is a seven day cooling off period during which you have the right to cancel and get a full refund. In reality, it is more than seven days, because it starts at the point at which contracts are concluded, and ends seven working days after the day on which the goods have actually been delivered. As mentioned in the the distance selling section, the supplier is obliged to present you with specific pre-contractual information, concerning among other things, your cooling off rights, plus how, when and to whom items should be returned. If this information has not been presented to you before the items are delivered to you, your cooling off period will be extended to 7 days after the information is presented. Any later than this and your cooling off period may extend for up to three months!

How to cancel

You must provide notice of cancellation in writing and it must be posted to, left at, faxed or emailed to the business address of the supplier, and you must ensure this is sent no later than seven working days after receipt of goods. Ensure you keep proof of your cancellation notice in case of dispute. The supplier must then reimburse you within 30 days without charge (unless you have been expressly informed that you will be liable for a charge) and if you have any related credit agreements, these will also be cancelled. For more information about, returns and charges.

The work started before the end of the cancellation period

Unless you have agreed otherwise, goods must be delivered, or services performed within 30 days from the date you submitted your order. If you have commissioned a service under a distance selling contract and the supplier offers to start the work before the end of the 7 day cooling off period, then you can give up your right to cancel, but you must be notified of this and your express permission sought. If the work started with your permission and the supplier has not provided you with the compulsory pre-contractual information prior to their starting, you may still have your right to cancel and get a full refund even though the work has been completed!

Does the right to cancel apply for all goods bought by mail order?

There are obvious exceptions and you will not have the right to cancel with the purchase of the following goods:

  • Goods made to a personalised specification
  • Perishable goods, such as foodstuffs and flowers
  • Audio/video recordings or software where the seal has been broken
  • Newspapers, magazines or other reading material (not books)
  • Gaming, betting, lotteries

Mail order and distance selling


Leave a Comment

38 comments… add one
  • David Green 19 April, 10:56 pm

    I was persuaded to buy a contract for a mobile phone with 3 by a telesales person. I was told I had a 14 day period in which to return. However their terms of return suggest I cannot use the phone (i.e. switch it on – test its features) . Surely this is contrary to legislation?

    I quote:-

    If you bought your mobile online or via telesales:
    If you’re a new customer who purchased your mobile via three.co.uk or from our own telesales team and for some reason you change your mind, provided you have not used your mobile, you can return it within 14 days of delivery. You’ll also have to return the original boxed accessories and documentation ‘as new’.

    This policy doesn’t apply:

    to new customers who did not purchase their mobile via 3’s telesales team or via three.co.uk
    to new customers who purchased their mobile via 3’s telesales team who have used their mobile (this means that you may not personalise your mobile in any way, or use any of the 3 Services, or take photos or videos or load any data onto the mobile), or

    to existing customers who choose (where allowed by 3) to upgrade their mobile.
    In all circumstances you must return your mobile to the retailer from which you bought it, along with the original boxed accessories and documentation ‘as new’. If you are unsure what to do or who to contact. Call 0843 373 3333 and we will advise you if you are eligible under this Returns policy and how to return your mobile and original boxed accessories. Always retain copies of your receipt and proof of postage. Your refund will be in the same form as your original payment.


    Please advise


  • Steve Fitton 15 September, 12:33 pm


    Can you please advise,

    I repurchase 4 tickets from a London theater yes today on line direct with the theater box office, witch i now need to cancel, the booking office has told me i can not cancel them “they have no cancel policy and will not refund me”

    As i under stand it i have a 7 day colling off and i can cancel in this time at no cost to me.

    What can i do?

    Kind Regards


  • alan 3 March, 7:53 pm

    Buying remotely – cooling off period does this apply to a holiday booking cancelled by myself.

    Via a call centre:
    Holiday agent states booking date 4/1/2011
    Agreed purchase date 11/1/2011
    Deposit charged 12/1/2011
    Invoice received subsequently (14 or 15 from memory) stating:
    Booking date 4/1/2011
    Invoice date 19/1/2011
    Cancelled booking by telephone, e-mail and surface mail 17/1/2011

    The agent now refuses to refund the deposit fee – £300.

    PS the holiday booking was for July 2011 so this is not about a holiday gone pear shaped.
    Are they trying to create a loophole with the cooling off period?

    • Michelle 20 October, 12:04 pm

      Alan, just wondering if you had any joy with the holiday refund? I’m going through the same situation myself and could really do with some help. Many thanks. Michelle

  • Julia Scott 4 October, 5:39 pm

    I have just purchased a Landrover Freelander on the internet. It was advertised as a 4 wheeldrive. When I took it to a local garage to have part of the exhaust replaced (it started to blow on the journey home) the mechanic told me that the drive shaft had been removed effectively making the vehicle a two wheel drive. Do I have the right to demand a full refund plus the cost of the exhaust part if I return the vehicle immediately.

  • alan 20 October, 10:20 pm

    Non at all I am afraid. Holiday deposits seem exempt from the distance selling rules, there seems no refund possible.

    It is a pity that the travel company would not even “bend” the apparent rules. I think that is because the cruise company are totally unbending upon the spirit of distance selling – that had a cabin booking and wanted that money. What really bugs me is that this was about 7 months in advance not just a few days, so it is very possible the cabin was taken up by someone else – I hope they could afford that cruise.

    All I can do it seems is to personally blacklist both the travel company and the cruise company – I just throw away their publicity.

    If there is something that can be done I would appreciate a refund of £300.

    So they key is never book a holiday unless you are very very certain


  • Matthew 15 January, 1:04 am


    I recently purchased a Forever Unique dress for my girlfriend for circa £350, the dress was delivered on time and seeemed in perfect condition. However on our night out the crystals which are sewn onto the dress started to come away within 30 minutes, as such we returned the dress to find the owners / managers stated they would only replace / refund once they have sent back to the manufacturer and the manufacturer has confirmed if faulty or ‘just wear and tear’ to use their words – which was unacceptable.
    I wasnt aware of this at the time as my girlfirend was in contact with them and since i have assumed their comment is incorrect as we only have a contract with them, the supplier and not the manufacturer.
    The manufacturer has since agreed to replace the dress through the supplier, to which the supplier has stated they are very surprised and have delivered a new dress. My girlfriend notified the supplier at the time that she did not want a replacement dress and would prefer a refund due to the liklihood of this dress experiencing the same problems and also the quality for the price. She was then told no refund would be given and she would have to accept a replacement.

    Apologies for the long details (moan) but could anybody advise if this is correct? I thought if goods where faulty we would entitled to a full refund.

    Thanks in advance

  • JA 27 January, 7:31 pm

    Today I had a cold caller telephone me and offer me advertising for my business in a magazine. It sounded like a really good publication but after the call where I agreed to buy an advert I looked on the internet and found the publication is not a magazine as I understood it but a booklet of 30 pages of adverts. I was told that when I agreed I would receive an eamail which I had to repley to and that they would take my card details but not charge me until the proof is agreed. I told them they could take info from my website. Does the cooling off period apply or do I have to pay up? I feel such an idiot.

  • Peter 28 January, 6:42 pm

    To mMichele and Alan. I too have been refused refund of deposit with Cruise company even after only 24 hours. Suggest ringing Travel Industry Conciliation Service on 01923 856615. All US Lines refund Deposits, why not UK. Law on Distant Selling must apply.

    • alan 31 January, 2:26 pm

      I think the issue is that the agent is expected to book with the cruise line – both UK companies as far as I know. I think it is the cruise line who is being most unhelpful. But I will try to speak to the conciliation service.


  • Rebecca 5 February, 8:41 pm

    I have just bought a dedicated server from a company called UKfast, the whole time i was speaking to the sales advisor, I was under the impression that the server was being provided by them. It is only when I completed the online form (which looks like it is being sold by UKfast) and it was completed and I received an email that I realised that I had actually bought a server from another company, that is owned by UKfast, but it’s called dedicated hosting. It is a a totally different brand and service. At no point was I told that i was buying a different brand. Since I have been with them, which has only been 3 days, many things have happened which I won’t go into detail here. The big thing that is upsetting me is that the support was not explained to me at all. All email support is chargeable. I have to pay £60 for each query. I have been with 3 other companies in the past and never had to pay for that before. Telephone support is something else, and I understand why I have to pay for it, but email support especially when you have just joined a company should be free. This is obviously not the package that is suitable for me for long term. So I would like to know what my rights are?

    I have signed an “online form” for the contract. It is a 12 month contract. Do I have any rights to cancel before the 7days is up? The contract does not have any cooling off period in it at all.

    My biggest complaint is that I have been sold something under a different brand and was not told about it, and the email support was also not explained to me.

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • syed 8 February, 8:28 pm

    I would like to see if there is any thing that can be done against the company Talk Talk, since they have falsely promised a deal to me and I changed from BT to them and it wasn’t anything like promised. Here is the case:

    Talk Talk called me around 3 months ago and offered me to change from BT to them for £ 12.30 monthly plus £ 6.99 internet. I was paying the same for BT and Orange online, so it wasn’t a good deal for me, but then he said about the extra £ 2.99 call boost for international calls and I said that I only call 2 countries and they aren’t in Europe, so he asked me witch countries and I said very clearly Brazil and India. He said that wouldn’t be a problem because he could keep the price for these countries as well but only during weekends and weekdays after 7 pm, I still confirmed 2 or 3 times more as my wife is witness since she was listening to the call. After having total confirmation that the calls would be free, included in the package, I accepted and as soon they connected I started calling on the times allowed for free.
    It took me some time to realise that the price was over charged because the bill was in direct debit, but when I saw my statement 3 months later, I noticed that some thing was wrong. I called straight away and they said that they don’t have such a plan with calls for these 2 countries, only to Europe. When I stressed that I had been assured of that, they started looking into my account and the calls that were recorded and realised that it was a mistake made from their staff, so they agreed to refund the money spent on the international calls, but they couldn’t keep the plan as it was offered. I was very disappointed and complained that I had changed only because of this offer and now I am stuck in a 1 year contract again without any benefit to me, not mentioning that their staffs are not reliable and the company looks me quite a mess.
    After loosing half a day talking to them, a friend that had call me same day early morning called me in my mobile and said that he couldn’t connect to my land line at all. I try to call from my mobile, and as he said, there was a message saying that the number wasn’t connected. For my despair again I needed to call Talk Talk and they said I had asked to change the number but without any prove they changed they speech and said “someone” did the request… how someone have all my details to change my number so easily? They couldn’t explain and seeing that I was getting nervous and impatient they simple suggest me to go back to BT, and even sent me to the department of cancellations. I was helpless and by that moment I was only trying to get my old number back. Believe me, after loosing all my day off and spoiling the mood of my entire family, I got someone who told me that they would connect my old number but after 7 days!!! How the number was changed in feel hours in that same day and now they couldn’t do the same even knowing that it was their mistake? My old and right number was 020 8.. and now they gave me the number 020 3… . For a period of 7 days nobody will be able to contact me.
    Please let me know if there is any action that I can take against them. Here is my details in case you would like to contact me by post:


    Yours Sincerely

  • Steve 12 March, 12:12 pm

    I pay a monthly subscription to a internet marketing mentoring group – during one of their weekly online webinars they invited basic level subscribers like me to upgrade to the next level for $2000 plus vat -divided into 4 x payments of $500 plus vat .

    There was a 3 x day cancellation clause – I decided to give it a go and was re-directed to another website which collected my name / card details

    A couple of weeks later I found out that this was a re-curring payment of $2000 plus vat annually

    I subsequently cancelled within 30 x days but the company has refused a refund

    Do I have any redress ?

    I will appreciate any advice

    Best regards to all


  • I.Wilkinson 24 July, 5:51 pm

    JA 27th Jan 2102 speaks of a cold call telephone call trying to sell an advert space in a magazine, which has happened to me several times. they get you to agree on the phone and send you artwork taken from your website and an invoice. A promise of complimentary magazines is also given. Where do we stand as no replies have yet been given that i can decifer, if we have said yes on the phone and then a day or so later decide not to.

  • Joe Potts 13 August, 2:02 pm

    Can you advise me about a Netbook which was purchased online 6 days ago.

    Two issues, firstly we were told by staff that it would be able to connect to tyhe interned via mobile broadband dongle. However we now find that this is not the case having had to ring the manufacturer’s tech helpline.

    Secondly surely under the Distance Selling regs are we not able to return in any case within this time period ?

    It’s just that having contacted Original Factory Shop they are saying refunds only if goods are faulty. I just wanted to double check before I take this further.

  • Sam 12 December, 3:19 pm

    I bought an item off Ebay which was a “Buy It Now” Transaction.When i realized it wasn’t the the right item i cancelled this order the next day and asked for a refund.The seller still posted the item out even though they knew i wanted to cancel.I refused the item off the postman and sent it back to seller.

    The Distant Selling Regulations states,if i bought the goods off Ebay as a result of a Buy It Now transaction i have the right to a 7 day cooling off period and a full refund.Does the 7 day cooling off period apply if the seller is a private seller trading on Ebay.

  • Chris 4 March, 8:22 pm


    I placed a £300 deposit to buy a car over the phone as it was 150 miles away. I then changed my mind and have decided not to buy the car. The car dealership have taken my deposit, and won’t return this as I asked when I cancelled. Am I entitled to get this back as I did not see the car or not as I have changed my mind?

  • shammy 8 March, 10:28 am


    i purchased three ready made dresses from the website, the dresses came through and although they have a disclaimer online saying that the dresses are replicas of the image i didnt feelthey were good enough for what i was charged. i confirmed by email within a few hours of receiving the good sthat i was unhappy and that i would like to claim a refund, however at the time of sale because i requested if there was any discount for buying multiple items and i was given a 17.5% discount. To add to this the adviser im spaeking with says that i was told that all discounts would have been subject to non return of items and only exchange.

    surely i am still entitled to mey 7 day cooling off period if i agreed to the discount?

  • Emma 3 February, 7:52 pm

    Advice needed, please. I ordered some goods from an internet company back on 4th January. I received an email two days later to say my order was being processed and nothing else afterwards. No expected delivery time was given and I heard nothing for a while. I sent several emails asking when I could expect delivery and finally received a reply saying the company had been busy and orders were taking 3-4 weeks.

    I sent another email on 31st January to ask whether the order had been sent yet and received no reply. I sent another email again and still heard nothing. I asked PayPal to get involved because I still hadn’t had the items. The seller then contacted me and said that they had been ‘about to send an email to say the goods were being posted on Monday, but then a notice from PayPal was received and now the order has been cancelled’. Nothing else was said. I replied saying that I looked forward to refund and that, to improve future business, they could start by sending customers updates regarding an order. I had a snotty reply back saying that I need to learn how to send polite emails and that the T&Cs stated that items are custom made to order, and that cancellation of an order will result in only a 50% refund being made. I spent £50.

    I escalated the claim with PayPal, but they’ve refused the claim on the basis that the order was custom made and that they don’t protect custom made purchases. The items aren’t personalised, but material is ordered in to make them, apparently. They aren’t made to size requirements, rather they specify a size and you select the one you want.

    I have sent a further email to the company asking whether they would now send the order because I won’t be happy with having a 50% refund. They haven’t replied, nor have they attempted any kind of refund.

    Where do I stand now? Their T&Cs were well hidden, in my opinion. Nothing was stated about the orders being custom made during the buying or during checkout. It also didn’t state how long delivery takes. Trading Standards say that items bought online should be delivered within 30 days unless another date has been agreed. It’s been 30 days today and I clearly wouldn’t have had the items. I don’t know what to do next to get the order or get my money back.

    • Annemarie Ferran 16 January, 10:24 am

      I ordered a Segway from smarthoverboarder.co.uk on the 26/11/2016 I payed with PayPal and I have sill not received it the price was £249.00 what can I do

  • Niamh 24 May, 4:23 pm

    I bought flights via telephone with a visa….cooling off?

  • Dawn Johnstone 5 October, 4:54 pm

    Dfs tell me if I buy from them on line that I will have to pay 20% cancellation and pay to return with no refund on my return costs. They say they can do this because the furniture is made to order. Are they correct.

  • laura purcell 17 October, 5:21 am

    I ordered items from an online auction for our non-profit school. The auction ended and we were advised we have to get our merchandise by Friday. I contacted them right after auction for the weights of the products to get a carrier quote. I got no call back. I had someone from the school call them Thursday and they stated my order didnt have the weights so couldnt ship. I was confused and our driver on standby stayed another night and I TRIED TO call friday and could not get any response so our delivery driver could not pick up. Our given pickup time expired and we had a deadline to get the merchandise for the school. We proceeded to purchase elsewhere and the auction company is trying to hold me liable. My bank is siding with them as of now. What are my rights? We followed their guidelines and had to move on if not we wouldnt have the items we needed to keep our school open for 400+ students. PLEASE HELP WITH ANY ADVISE..

  • Nicholas 31 October, 12:22 am

    My young sister took plasma tv and washing machine on credit an knowing her contract at work was terminated.can she cancelle the contract immediately?

  • nilgun 28 November, 9:35 am

    photo studio conned me into parting with £3,050 for a portfolio we didn’t need

  • Tracey NIcholls 1 December, 12:54 pm

    We are advertising in a magazine and wish to cancel the advert.

    It is only now they have said there are terms and conditions which we have not been sent or made aware of previously (until we mentioned cancelling).

    Surely we should have been informed of the T&C’s? They are continuing to charge us for advertising – please assist

  • Alesya 3 January, 1:13 pm

    Hello. I have paid for pair of converse and have choosen the wrong size. I sent a message for an online shop about this problem and asked them to refund or change hthe size. They said that I should Order another pair of converse and they will cancel my previous order. I tried to do this but they had not got the size that I need. How can I ask for my money back? Thank you.

  • jenny 13 May, 2:59 pm

    i purchased bracelet charms from pandora outlet which i didnt know was a fake company, all the charms were wrong and not as described , i sent them back to china but not received refund, i have sent numerous emails and they tried to banter. bank wont do anything, is there anyway i can get my money back.??

  • D Roughley 13 August, 7:55 am

    I have ordered and paid for a dress with debit card have not received it, they are refusing refund
    until I return it, or I can choose another dress but, I would also have to pay for that?

  • Jordan 1 October, 4:21 pm

    I have paid for some shoes and tried 3 times to email the company but no reply can I get my bank to follow this up

  • Karen 4 October, 8:52 am

    How do I get my £200 deposit back from a holiday Company who claim the sofa bed needed replacing. This was not damaged when we left the apartment.

  • Amy 2 December, 7:46 am

    I purchased an item from baby haven.com as it was the cheapest there. The site used pounds sterling and gave no indication they were not uk based. Around a week later I was notified by customs that I had a few to pay to receive my parcel. This would have made the item ridiculously to expensive so I notified the company via email that I would like to cancel my order and receive a full refund. I also notified customs that I would not be paying the fee and asked them to return the item to the seller.

    Customs have advised that they only ship back items to DHL at the end of each month so the parcel is unlikely to be in transit back to the seller until early Jan. The seller has suggested they will not issue my refund until the item is back in their warehouse, this will be approximately 2 months after I cancelled the order. Do I not have a right to a refun within 30 days of cancellation? If so how can I ensure I get it?

    Thanks in advance

  • Lisa 4 March, 10:02 am

    I bought 5 dresses off a web sight that clearly has the products made and shipped China they arrived and are hideous now I know with regards to returns and refunds with custom made items you don’t have much of a leg to stand on but after emailing them my disatisfaction as the dresses are basically two different colours they replied saying they have used chiffon and satin and I should expect colour difference as different materials !! But I have looked at the description of the dress on their sight and the it just states the material as chiffon (no where does it say &. Satin ! Do I have any rights as item not as described

  • Amanda 7 August, 9:52 am

    I bought a fridge freezer online and when it arrived it was different instead as to what the picture advertised. When I told the company I was not taking the goods there response was I would have to paid £49 for the return of goods. I was told also information about the product in the picture might be different from what I received and I should have read the terms and conditions. these were hidden away within the website. Could you tell me If I should have to paid this £49 and what are my rights?

  • Beki 14 October, 8:03 am

    I bought clothes from an online shop they don’t offer refunds and it’s advertised as “we do not accept returns or exchanges and this is a legal agreement in our T&C”. Are they aloud to do this?

  • Derrick Emptage 6 December, 3:45 pm

    I cancelled a Amazon order on the 29.11.2016 they have refunded my account but I still have received to goods which will cost me money to send back also their was not paperwork about returning the goods with the goods which Amazon have asked for

  • Annemarie Ferran 16 January, 10:35 am

    Please help me I ordered a Segway for my daughter Christmas I ordered it on the 26/11/2016 I payed £249.00 throw pay pal I ordered it with smart
    hover board and I still have not received it could you please tell me what I can do to receive my money back

  • Michael tyrrell 30 January, 4:55 pm

    I purchased some bedroom furniture and had to wait 7wks for it to arrive and when it did there was problems with 1 of the items which I pointed out to the driver and he took photos and said he would show them to his boss. I contacted the company and told them about the problem and was told they were talking to the manufacturer, i waited a further 2wks before I was emailed saying that the manufacturer would receive replacement parts, i.e. doors for the wardrobe in a minimum of another 2wks time and then I would have to wait for a delivery date from them. I’ve rang the company that I ordered the goods from and tools them that I am really unhappy about this and just want a refund and the goods just taking away. The company said that they would thing the manufacturer to do this, am I entitled to a full refund along with the delivery charge even if this has been going on for 9wks thus far?