Cancellation periods

Cancellation periods

Contents

If you want to cancel a distance selling contract, you usually have a legal right to do so 'unconditionally'. This means you can cancel without giving a reason. But it's only unconditional for a certain amount of time after a distance selling contract is 'performed' (a contract is usually 'performed' when you've received the goods or services you ordered). This time period is known as the 'cancellation period' or 'cooling-off period'.

(There are some exceptions to the right to cancel. See Exemptions from distance selling regulations for more information.)

Different cancellation rules apply depending on:

  • Whether the contract is for goods only, both goods and services, services only or digital content; and
  • When the seller provided the 'relevant information', which means the information on your right to cancel, and the time limit and procedures for cancelling the contract.

The tables below show how the cancellation periods vary.

Cancellation periods for contracts providing goods or goods and services

When the seller gave the relevant informationCancellation periodExample

Before the contract was agreed

Ends 14 calendar days from the day after the goods were delivered

Information is given to you before you buy your goods. Goods are delivered to you on 14 July. The cancellation period starts on 15 July. It ends 14 calendar days later, so you can't cancel after 28 July.

At any time during the 12-month period starting on the day after the goods were delivered

Ends 14 calendar days from the day after you received the information

Goods are delivered to you on 14 July and the relevant information is given on 19 August. The cancellation period starts on 20 August. It ends 14 calendar days later, so you can't cancel after 2 September.

Never given

Ends 12 months and 14 calendar days from the day after you received the goods

The goods are delivered on 14 July. The cancellation period starts on 15 July. It ends 12 months and 14 calendar days later, so you can't cancel after 29 July the following year.

Cancelling the service

If the contract provides goods and services (such as supplying and fitting a new boiler), a seller must not start performing the service before the end of the normal cancellation period, which is 14 calendar days from the day after the goods are delivered.

When you must pay seller's costs

If you wish, you can ask the seller to start providing the service before the end of the normal cancellation period (14 calendar days).

If you do, and you then cancel it within the normal cancellation period, you'll have to pay for the service you received before you cancelled.

The price must be based on the contract price. If the contract price is excessive, the amount to pay will be based on comparative services available in the market.

When you don't have to pay seller's costs

If you cancel before the end of the normal cancellation period, you'll be able to cancel it without paying any of the seller's costs of providing the service, if:

  • The seller hasn't given you the relevant information; or
  • You didn't ask the seller to start providing the service during the normal cancellation period.

When you lose your right to cancel

You'll lose your cancellation rights if you:

  • remove the seal of audio recordings, video recordings or computer software;
  • mix the goods so that they can't be separated from other delivered goods, e.g. mixing 2 different coloured paints together; or
  • remove the seal from goods that were supplied sealed, like earrings or toothbrushes, as they'll no longer be suitable to return for health or hygiene reasons.

Cancellation periods for contracts providing services only

When the seller gave the relevant informationCancellation periodExample

Before the contract was agreed

Ends 14 calendar days from the day after the contract is made

Information is given to you before you agree to the contract. Contract is made on 14 July. The cancellation period starts on 15 July. It ends 14 calendar days later, so you can't cancel after 28 July.

At any time during the 12-month period starting on the day after the contract was agreed

Ends 14 calendar days from the day after the contract was made

You agree to the contract on 14 July and the relevant information is given on 19 August. The cancellation period starts on 20 August. It ends 14 calendar days later, so you can't cancel after 2 September.

Never given

Ends 12 months and 14 calendar days from the day after the contract was made

The contract is made on 14 July. The cancellation period starts on 15 July. It ends 12 months and 14 calendar days later, so you can't cancel after 29 July the following year.

Cancelling the service

A seller must not start performing the service before the end of the normal cancellation period.

When you must pay seller's costs

If you wish, you can ask the seller to start providing the service before the end of the normal cancellation period.

If you do, and you then cancel it within the normal cancellation period, you'll have to pay for the service you received before you cancelled.

The price must be based on the contract price. If the contract price is excessive, the amount to pay will be based on comparative services available in the market.

When you don't have to pay seller's costs

If you cancel before the end of the normal cancellation period, you'll be able to cancel it without paying any of the seller's costs of providing the service, if:

  • The seller hasn't given you the relevant information; or
  • You didn't ask the seller to start providing the service during the normal cancellation period.

Cancellation periods for digital content

When the seller gave the relevant informationCancellation periodExample

Before the contract was agreed

Ends 14 calendar days from the day after the contract was made

Information is given to you before you agree to the contract. Contract is made on 14 July. The cancellation period starts on 15 July. It ends 14 calendar days later, so you can't cancel after 28 July.

At any time during the 12-month period starting on the day after the contract was agreed

Ends 14 calendar days from the day after the contract was made

You agree to the contract on 14 July and the relevant information is provided on 19 August. The cancellation period starts on 20 August. It ends 14 calendar days later, so you can't cancel after 2 September.

Never given

Ends 12 months and 14 calendar days from the day after the contract was made

The contract is made on 14 July. The cancellation period starts on 15 July. It ends 12 months and 14 calendar days later, so you can't cancel after 29 July the following year.

Cancelling the supply of digital content

Intangible digital content

A seller must not start supplying any intangible digital content (like a mobile app or computer program) before the end of the normal cancellation period.

But you can specifically ask for it to start before the normal cancellation period, as long as you've been told of the consequences and you've told the seller that you accept.

If you do ask for it, you'll lose the right to cancel if the supply of the digital content has started.

Tangible digital content

Where the seller is supplying digital content in a tangible form like a CD, and you cancel the contract before the normal cancellation period ends, you won't have to pay for it if:

  • You didn't specifically ask the seller to provide it before the end of the normal cancellation period; or
  • You asked the seller to provide it before the end of the normal cancellation period, but you weren't told about, or you didn't agree to, losing your right to cancel if the supply of the digital content has started.