Many people in the UK are unaware of the rights they have as consumers. As we move more of our shopping activity online, it’s important to understand two very important aspects of law which are designed to protect customers whilst buying goods and services online.
When you physically buy something in a shop you have no rights for a return or refund. If you change your mind about a purchase then some stores will offer a 14-day refund policy, or a 30-day exchange policy, but this is purely up to the individual shop. However, if the product is faulty, you may have different rights.
14-Day Cooling Off Period
If you have arranged a service online, by phone or mail order, you have a 14-day cooling off period in which to cancel for a full refund. You will also get this cooling off period if you were approached by the business off their premises, and the value is £42 or more.
The cooling off period begins from the day after you enter either a verbal or written contract with the business.
There are a few exceptions to this. You will not receive a cooling off period in the following circumstances:
- Accommodation (hotels or lets)
- Vehicle rental services
- Transport of goods, which includes courier services
- Catering or leisure activities for specific dates (restaurant bookings, concert tickets, hog-roast hire for a summer party)
CASE STUDY: Use Your Cooling Off Period To Save On Fees
Recently a member of staff here at PayingTooMuch.com bought a new car. However, unbeknown to him, the car registration changed between viewing and delivery. Therefore the insurance he arranged was taken out using the old registration.
When he called the insurance company to change the registration, they told him there would be a £25 administration fee for the change. Ridiculous, right? He informed the insurance company that he didn’t agree, and wanted to cancel the insurance for a full refund as he was within the 14-day cooling off period.
The insurer saw sense and waived the fee. This case shows just how important it is for everyone to know their consumer rights!
For more information, see the Citizens Advice website.
The rules surrounding the purchase of goods online is very similar to the 14-day cooling off period for services. The key differences are:
- Your right to cancel starts from the moment the order is placed and lasts until 14-days after you receive the goods.
- If you download digital content with 14-days of purchase, you waive your right to a refund.
Those are the basics. The legislation is far deeper than we have space for here but Which? have a good website concerning the Consumer Contracts Regulations.
In October last year, the laws surrounding the return of faulty goods changed in the customer’s favour. See our blog post for more information.
Know your rights – You don’t need to know the law inside out, but it’s good to have an overview of what your rights are as a customer. As you can see above, knowing that you have a 14-day cooling off period can remove a lot of the stress and extra fees surrounding initial insurance amendments.