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The Legal aspects of doorstep selling

Legal aspects of doorstep selling

If you try and sell products worth over £35 to customers at their home or place of work, you must abide by certain rules.

What are the rules?

Since 13th June 2014, doorstep selling is regulated by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (which replaced The Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer's Home or Place of Work etc. Regulations 2008). The main protection which they afford to consumers is the right to cancel a contract within a “cooling off period.” Until 13th June 2014 this cooling off period was seven working days but, since 13th June, it’s extended to 14 calendar days.

If a customer decides to take advantage of this right to cancel, you need to refund their money or any deposit which they have paid, subject to various exceptions.

Providing notice of right to cancel

As a trader engaging in doorstep sales, you’re obliged to inform your customers of their right to cancel the contract. Failure to do so can lead to an extension of the cooling off period to 12 months. Furthermore, it is a criminal offence to fail to provide notice of the right to cancel and your business can be fined up to £5,000.

When do the rules apply?

If you’re selling goods or services for over £35 at the home or in the workplace of a customer, this is covered by the regulations, as is the case where you sell to one person in the home of another or on an excursion away from your business premises. You also need to follow the rules if a customer makes an offer subsequent to such an occasion.

Are there any exceptions?

There are certain types of doorstep sales which are not covered by the rules, including:

• goods or services being sold which cost £35 or under
• where the sales relate to building, buying or renting of property
• the sale of groceries and other things delivered regularly to a home or workplace by “roundsmen” such as milkmen
• where the sales involve certain catalogue orders, where the catalogue is left with the customer and they have the right to return the goods
• where the sales pertain to insurance contracts
• where the sales pertain to investment agreements
• where the sales pertain to certain types of credit agreement, such as mortgages.

A variety of documents related to doorstep selling can be downloaded from our Business Documents Folder. Click on any relevant templates in the list, below, for further information.

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