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When can I cancel a contract?

When you enter into a contract or buy goods from a trader your right to cancel or return the goods may vary depending on where the contract was entered and what the contract was for.

On the trader’s premises

When you enter a contract while on the traders premises you have no automatic right to cancel the contract or return any goods for a refund. This is because the law considers that you will have had an opportunity to question the trader and inspect any goods in order to make an informed decision on whether they are right for you. While it’s not a legal requirement some traders will still give you a cooling off period and this will be made clear in the contract’s terms and conditions or on the back of your receipt.  

Best practice would be to always check what the trader’s cancellation policy is before agreeing to anything and even if the trader appears to have no cancellation policy it’s always worthwhile trying to negotiate with them.

Off the trader’s premises

When you enter an agreement with a trader and you’re not on their premises at the time for example they come to your home or the agreement is entered online or by telephone then the law gives you a 14 day (cooling off) period in which you can cancel the agreement or return any goods for a full refund. There are however some exceptions to this for the following;

  • Bespoke goods or services
  • Holidays and travel
  • Items with a short life span such as food
  • The goods or services cost less than £42
  • Services where you’ve agreed to waive your right to cancel, this may have been so that the service could start immediately and often applies to the purchase of online games and applications.
Last updated: 27 March 2019

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