Doorstep Selling Regulations
Your legal rights against door-to-door salesmen
Many of us find ourselves sweet-talked into purchasing products of little use by door-to-door salesmen. Fortunately, Doorstep Selling Regulations are in place to protect us when we fall into their web of deceit.
Anybody who tries to sell you goods at your home (as well as anyone trying to sell you something outside the premises of their business) is compelled by law to inform you of your cancellation rights, which can be included in a contract or given separately in writing. Any seller failing to uphold this will be acting illegally, and they should be reported to the Trading Standards Office immediately. Furthermore, you will not be under any obligation to the seller.
These cancellation rights are very powerful as they allow you a 7-day ‘cooling-off period’ to cancel the contract if you wish and get your money back.
Unfortunately these do not cover all purchases. The regulations do not apply to goods bought for less than £35 pounds. You will also not be able to get a refund if the goods were of one of a certain number of types:
- Perishable items (food)
- Investments whose value fluctuates according to financial market behaviour
Claiming a refund under Doorstep Selling Regulations
In order to cancel a contract you must inform the seller of your decision in writing and deliver it to them either by post or email. Sellers are supposed to provide their customers with cancellation forms for this purpose but writing a letter works just as well. The letter or form must be posted within the 7-day cooling off period (it does not matter when it is received as long as it was posted in time).
Be wary when cancelling the contract as you may not be dealing with the most reputable of tradespeople. As a precaution you should always send your cancellation form or letter by recorded delivery and maintain the delivery slip, as well as keeping a copy of the letter or form, so that you keep some proof of your cancellation. If you choose to cancel by email then it is relatively simple to retain a copy of your email in your account.
After the contract is cancelled then it is treated as if it had never existed, and the trader is obliged to return any money that you paid (this includes deposits).
Any unconsumed goods must be returned to the seller, although you are not required to do so until you have received your money back. You do however have to front up for any expenses incurred when returning the goods.
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