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Consumer Rights.

Updated: 4 Mar 2021

How do I cancel an order for a service bought online?

Confused about whether you’re legally allowed to cancel a service bought online? There are clear rules under the Consumer Contracts Regulations. Find out more here.
Which?Editorial team

1 Changes in consumer law

From 13 June 2014, the Consumer Contracts Regulations apply to all purchase you make online. 

For all purchases made before this date, the Distance Selling Regulations applied. Read on to find out how to cancel a service bought online. 


Three key facts

  • If you decide to cancel a service bought online you have 14 days from the point of agreeing the contract to do so
  • If you agree to the service starting within the 14 day cancellation period, the retailer can charge you for any service you have had the benefit of if you decide to cancel 
  • Once you give notice to cancel, you're entitled to your refund within 14 days of doing so

2 Check what you agreed

If you decide to cancel a service, you have 14 days from the point of agreeing the contract to do so. 

But check whether you agreed to the service starting before the end of the cooling-off period.

If you choose to cancel an order within the cooling-off period and the service has already started, you'll still be able to cancel but you could be charged for the service that you've already had the benefit of.

For example, if you pay for a gym membership and start using the gym, then change your mind within the cooling-off period, you'll still be refunded but could be charged for the amount of gym time you used.

If you didn't agree to the service starting within the cooling-off period and choose to cancel within this timeframe, you're entitled to a full refund.

3 Cancelling the service

The supplier needs to provide, or make available, a standard cancellation form to make cancelling easy (although you're under no obligation to use it).

You can cancel in writing or by email. Using the supplier's cancellation process usually makes sense, as long as it isn't made unnecessarily complicated.

If you took out a credit agreement to pay for the service, this agreement automatically comes to an end when you cancel the service.

If you want to cancel a contract, use our letter template to cancel a contract for services made at a distance.

4 Cancelling a digital download

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations digital downloads are given their own unique category and are therefore not services or goods.

A digital download is classed as data which is produced and supplied in digital form. For example, apps, an ebook or online films.

If you want to download something within 14 days of buying it, you will have to give your consent to waive the 14-day cooling-off period.

If you don’t give your consent, the 14-day cooling-off period still applies but you won't be able to download your digital content until this period has ended.