Often consumers and retailers are confused about when and if you’re legally allowed to cancel an online order.
Recent changes to legislation have also compounded this confusion. But don't fear, here's the lowdown...
- Most but not all online orders can be cancelled, for example bespoke or personalised items can't be
- Your right to cancel an order starts the moment you place your order and doesn't end until 14 days from the day you receive your goods
- Return your order as soon as possible - but don't forget to get proof of postage
1 Change in the law
From 13 June 2014 the new Consumer Contracts Regulations apply to all purchases you make at a distance, so either online, mail order, over the phone or through a shopping channel.
For purchases made before this date, the Distance Selling Regulations applied. Read on for step-by-step on your rights under the new rules.
2 Cancel an online order right away
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations your right to cancel an order starts the moment you place your order and doesn't end until 14 days from the day you receive your goods.
You should also be provided with a cancellation form at the point of sale, although you don't have to use it.
You can cancel an online order in writing, by fax or by email, though it’s sensible to stick with the process the seller has set up - if it’s reasonable.
The seller shouldn’t make cancelling an online order unnecessarily difficult. For example, you shouldn't need to call to get authorisation to return an item.
Or you shouldn't be told that items can’t be returned unless you’ve got a cancellation code.
Check the seller's terms and conditions and returns policy, as these will often set out the returns process.
There are some orders where you won't have the right to cancel.
These include items that are bespoke or personalised, goods likely to deteriorate rapidly, where the seal is broken on CDs, DVDs and computer software.
They also include goods that have a seal for health protection and hygiene reasons and where the seal is broken.
3 Use our template letters
Most online sellers will provide an email address you can send cancellations to, or you can use our template letters.
Use our template letter to make a written cancellation under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.
4 Return your online order
It's important to note that the Consumer Contracts Regulations doesn't affect your rights under the Sale of Goods Act where goods are faulty.
It's usually your responsibility to return the goods to the retailer following cancellation and you'll have to bear the direct cost of doing so, unless the trader has offered to collect them or they can't be posted.
Importantly, the goods must be returned within 14 calendar days of the cancellation. If you don't return the goods, the trader may not be required to refund any payment.
5 Check who pays postage
If the terms and conditions or returns policy doesn't state who pays for returns, the Consumer Contracts Regulations say the retailer must cover the cost of postage.
Check whether the retailer will arrange to collect the goods or whether it will cover your postage costs.