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