The rules relating to doorstep sales are outlined in the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which replaced the Consumer Protection (Cancellation of Contracts Concluded away from Business Premises) Regulations 1987.
The 2013 regulations stipulate what information door to door salesmen must give to customers when selling goods and services at the customer’s home, workplace or another individual’s home. They also provide general rules that must be followed for accepting returns or giving refunds.
Before an order is placed
Door to door salesman must provide the information in an easy to understand format. The following information should be on paper, in an email or in a manner the customer can save for future reference:
- business name, contact details and address;
- customer complaints address (if different to the business address)
- a description of the goods or services and a reminder that any goods must be of reasonable quality and as described;
- the total price or how this will be worked out;
- possible payment methods:
- delivery arrangements, costs and times;
- minimum contract length, billing periods and the costs of any open-ended contracts or subscriptions;
- conditions for ending rolling contracts or contracts with no clear end date;
- cancellation rights and any restrictions on these rights;
- standard cancellation form (if goods can be cancelled);
- costs for using a service after cancellation;
- amount and conditions for any deposits or other financial guarantees;
- what any digital content does and what software it works with;
- costs of phone lines or other communication required to complete the contract (where it will cost more than the basic rate);
- details of relevant codes of conduct or dispute resolution schemes;
- complaints handling policy;
- conditions of guarantees, services or after sales assistance.
Right to cancel
Customer should be told they can cancel their order up to 14 days after the contract was made – no reason for cancelling is required.
Failure to inform customers of their cancellation rights means they can cancel at any time in the next year, unless they are told about the right to cancel during these 12 months, in which case they have 14 days to cancel from when were told.
Door to door salesmen who do not tell the customer about their right to cancel, face an unlimited fine and prison for up to two years.
When a customer doesn’t have to pay
Certain costs do not have to be paid by the customer if they are not told about them in advance. These include:
- costs that are conditions of their right to cancel;
- extra costs for delivery;
- extra costs to return goods, eg, when they are too big for normal post.
After an order is placed
Customers must be informed that the contract is confirmed. All the information given before the order was placed must be provided on paper (unless another format is agreed).
Goods must be delivered the goods as soon as possible and within 30 days (unless agreed otherwise with the customer) or the service as soon as possible (unless a time period is agreed with the customer).
The above rules do not apply to:
- goods and services worth £42 or less;
- bus, train, flight and other tickets for passenger travel;
- NHS prescriptions and treatment (free and paid for);
- financial services, eg, pensions, mortgages, credit;
- the construction of new buildings (but not extensions);
- food and drink supplied regularly (eg, milkmen);
- package holidays, timeshares and holiday clubs;
- contracts to let a property the customer will live in, eg, renting a house or flat (although they do apply to estate agents’ marketing services);
- goods bought from a vending machine;
- using a payphone or paying to use an internet connection.
A pedlar’s certificate is required for those who sell goods door to door and carry them with them. The certificate is valid throughout the UK. Trade must take place on foot and the goods carried by the tradesman (something like a small trolley can be used).