New doorstep selling rules

For all doorstep sales made on, or after, 13 June 2014, the new Consumer Contracts Regulations apply, replacing the Doorstep Selling Regulations. 

You are protected when you take out a contract when a salesperson comes to your home, place of work or during an excursion arranged by the company. 

You also have protection when you take out a contract during off-premises sales. 

Cancelling doorstep sales

The cancellation period for buying goods on your doorstep has been extended from seven days to 14 calendar days after the delivery of your goods. 

In the case of service contracts sold on the doorstep, the cancellation period is also 14 calendar days after you enter into the contract. 

If you want the service to start immediately, you can still cancel within the 14-day cooling-off period but you may not get a full refund.  

Under the new rules, providers are allowed to make a deduction for the amount of the service you have benefited from before cancelling. 

You should be given information about your new cancellation rights and a sample cancellation form should be made available to you. 

If you want to cancel a contract made through a doorstep seller, use our template letter to help you do so. 

Unless otherwise agreed, all goods must be delivered within 30 calendar days. 

In summary

  • From 13 June 2014, the new Consumer Contracts Regulations have replaced the Doorstep Selling Regulations
  • The cancellation period for doorstep sales has been extended to 14 calendar days after delivery of the goods
  • For service contracts the cancellation period is 14 calendar days after the contract has been entered into
  • There are exceptions though, including perishable items such as food and drink, and personalised items

Cancellation of ancillary contracts

You also have the right to cancel any ancillary contracts. An ancillary contract can be for goods or services relating to the main contract. 

They can be either provided by the trader or provided by a third party as a result of an arrangement made by the trader. 

An example of an ancillary contract would be a warranty on the product you've bought.

If you want to make a complaint about doorstep selling practices, read our how to complain guide.

Exceptions to the new rules

It's important to note the cases where the Consumer Contracts Regulations don't apply. Examples of this include: 

  • goods or services that are worth less than £42. Prior to 13 June 2014, this total was £35 under the Doorstep Selling Regulations
  • perishable goods, such as food and flowers
  • land, insurance, credit and investment agreements
  • passenger transport services.

Energy suppliers on the doorstep

Recently, the energy watchdog has received numerous complaints about the use of high-pressure sales tactics on the doorstep to try and get customers to switch suppliers.

The Association of Energy Suppliers' (AES) Code of Practice outlines rules that all energy salespeople must follow when selling face to face - for example, in your home or in a shopping centre.

The guidelines say, among other things, that salespeople:

  • can call at your home only between 9am and 8pm (unless you ask for a visit outside of these times)
  • must say who they are and show a valid ID card
  • must do their best to make sure you understand any contract you've signed and your right to cancel
  • must not exploit consumers, give them false information, or use high-pressure sales tactics
  • must leave your home if you ask them to.

In some extreme cases, salespeople have forged people’s signatures on energy contracts. If this happens to you, you're entitled to £250 compensation.

Preventing cold callers

There are preventative measures you can take to avoid cold callers and doorstep sellers.

You can sign up with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to stop salespeople from telephoning your home.

It's unlawful for a business to make unsolicited phone calls to people who have registered with the TPS.

You can register by calling 0345 070 0707 or visiting the TPS website.

If you can get the backing of your local community, it’s also possible for you and your neighbours to make your area a ‘No Cold Calling Zone’.

The Trading Standards Institute and the police have set up the initiative to reduce doorstep crime and protect vulnerable consumers.

You and your neighbours will have to pay a small amount for street signs and door stickers.

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