Consumer right to cancel

Consumer right to cancel

The consumer's right to cancel

Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, a consumer usually has the right to cancel a distance contract or off-premises contract without giving a reason, and without any fault on your part (see Regulatory requirements for consumer contracts for an explanation of distance and off-premises contracts). The consumer must exercise this right during the cancellation period (or 'cooling-off period') specified in the regulations.

There are some types of contract where the consumer doesn't have this right. (See Regulatory requirements for consumer contracts for more information). The cancellation right doesn't apply where you're selling to other businesses.

Consumers are given these enhanced cancellation rights in distance selling and off-premises contracts because consumers don't have the chance to adequately assess what they're buying beforehand. They have to take suppliers at their word and would otherwise be at risk of being exploited by dishonest suppliers. If you sell goods or services in this way, it's important to know about your responsibilities and how the regulations affect you.

The cancellation period during which the consumer is entitled to cancel the contract is extended if you don't provide the pre-contract information in relation to cancellation rights specified by the regulations. (See Information requirements in consumer contracts for more information).

Loss of cancellation rights

Consumers will also lose the cancellation rights they'd otherwise have had under the regulations if they:

  • mix the goods inseparably with other goods
  • unseal sealed audio recordings, video recordings or computer software; or
  • unseal goods that were supplied sealed, and are then not suitable for return for health or hygiene reasons.

Informing consumers of cancellation rights

You must provide consumers with information about the right to cancel unless your distance or off-premises contract falls under one of the exceptions in the regulations. You must tell them the conditions, time limit and procedures for exercising this right. You must provide this information before the consumer is bound by the contract.

You must tell the consumer if they'll have to bear the cost of returning the goods, and state the cost of returning them if the goods can't be returned by post. You must also tell them that they'll have to pay your reasonable costs if they cancel after asking you to start supplying a service during the cancellation period. (See Information requirements in consumer contracts for more information.)

If you don't give the consumers the information required, the cancellation period is extended and you'll be guilty of an offence. You can use the model instructions for cancellation as set out in the regulations to provide this information.

You'll find the model instructions at Schedule 3, Part A of the regulations here.

The model cancellation form

The consumer will have a right to cancel in distance contracts and off-premises contracts that fall outside the exceptions in the regulations. You must give them the model cancellation form set out in the regulations before the contract is made.

The cancellation form must be legible. You must provide it in one of the following ways:

  • In off-premises contracts, you must provide the cancellation form on paper, or on another 'durable medium' if the consumer agrees (see Regulatory requirements for consumer contracts for an explanation of a durable medium).
  • In a distance contract, you must provide the cancellation form on a durable medium.

You'll find the model cancellation form at Schedule 3, Part B of the regulations here.

The consumer doesn't have to use the model cancellation form and can cancel by otherwise clearly telling you that they're cancelling the contract.

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