What if I buy by phone, mail order, or over the internet?

What if I buy by phone, mail order, or over the internet?

Any time a trader sells something online, by phone or via mail order it is called distance selling.

Distance selling has a different set of rights compared to those you have when you make a purchase in shop or face-to-face with the trader.

You have these extra rights because distance selling means you are unable to see the goods or service before you buy them.

These rights are part of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.

What are my rights when making a purchase via the internet, phone or mail order?

If you buy over the internet, phone or via mail order you:

  • must be given clear information about the goods or services before you make a purchase (pre-contract information)
  • must receive confirmation from the trader you have bought the goods or service
  • must clearly agree to any additional payments alongside the main contract. Charges such as insurance or faster delivery options should be offered on an opt-in basis, not opt-out
  • must be allow a 14 day cancelation cooling-off period where you can return the goods if you decide you do not want them
  • have the right to receive the goods or service within 30 days of placing your order.
  • have you right to keep any goods delivered to you despite you not asking for them. These are called unsolicited goods.
  • should not have to pay more than the basic rate to contact the trader about your purchase

Are there any circumstances where these rights do not apply?

There are some exceptions to the rules above. These include:

  • taking part in gambling
  • purchasing financial products like pensions, insurance, investment services, etc.
  • building, buying or renting property
  • package holidays
  • timeshare products
  • items purchased from vending machines or other automated goods/services providers.
  • single telecom connections, for example using an internet cafe
  • goods sold through legal execution, for example goods sold due to a court order

Are there any situations when a trader does not have to give pre-contract information?

Traders do not have to give pre-contract information if they:

  • sell free or NHS prescription medical products or services
  • sell passenger transport services, for example trains, aeroplanes and buses

Are there any situations when I can lose the right to cancel my order?

You may lose the right to cancel your purchase if:

  • the goods are sealing and are not suitable to return for health/hygiene reasons
  • the goods are sealed audio/video recordings or computer software and have been opened after delivery
  • the goods have been inseparably mixed with other items after delivery
  • the service has been fully carried out during the cancellation period and the correct information was provided by the trader
  • the item is digital content that has begun streaming or downloading during the cancelation period. However, before downloading begins you must have given express permission for it to do so

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