The Doorstep Selling Regulations

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The Consumer Protection (Cancellation of Contracts Concluded away from Business Premises) Regulations 1987 which were amended in 1998 and are more commonly known as the "Doorstep Selling Regulations" apply to most doorstep transactions (but note in particular that they do not apply to transactions involving land, mortgages, insurance, consumer credit and most other financial services) The Regulations give consumers:

  • The right to a seven day cooling off period, during which they may cancel an agreement to buy goods or services worth more than £35 from a trader whose visit is unsolicited (ie, not requested by the consumer).
  • The same right to a seven day cooling off period where a visit by a trader follows an unsolicited doorstep or telephone approach.

Note that these protections do not apply if a consumer acts entirely on his or her own initiative to invite a trader to visit.

The Regulations also provide that:

  • Traders who fail to inform consumers in writing of their right to a cooling off period will be committing a criminal offence.
  • Door-to-door sellers must provide a notice setting out cancellation rights when any agreement is made. Failure to do so makes the agreement unenforceable. This is the case whether a deposit is paid or not.
  • To exercise these cancellation rights, the consumer must write to the trader (or any person specified by the trader in the notice of cancellation rights). Such written cancellation will, if sent by post, take effect at the time of posting.

Note that if goods (eg, a fitted kitchen) are installed during the seven day cooling off period, the consumer may cancel the contract, but may still be liable to costs associated with the installation (eg, delivery and fitting). Any related credit arrangements will remain in force, but no interest will be payable on any money paid within one month of cancellation or before the first instalment is due.

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