Home > Ask Our Experts > Does 'Cooling Off' Period Apply to Contract Made By Phone?

Does 'Cooling Off' Period Apply to Contract Made By Phone?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 6 Oct 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Cooling-off Period Contract Consumer

Q.

My partner and I recently purchased a broadband package from a well known provider over the phone in which we were led to believe that we had a 14 day period in which we could return all equipment and cancel without occuring a charge.

We were then were told this was wrong and if we cancelled we would occur a vast charge... then we realised that the payment scheme we agreed to had also changed and not what we had originally agreed to.

Is this a breach of contract and if so what can my partner and I do about it?

(P.S, 10 March 2009)

A.

When a contract for the purchase of goods or services is entered into between a business and a consumer over the telephone it will usually be governed by special distance-selling rules. These rules state that a consumer is allowed to change their mind and cancel the contract within a certain period without penalty.

Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations consumers are entitled to 7 days to cancel most contracts entered into over the telephone. When the 7-day period starts varies depending on the type of contract.

If the contract is for the supply of services the cooling-off period starts when the contract is entered into. The supply of the services should not start sooner than 7 days from that point unless the consumer is warned that he may lose his right to cancel the contract if he agrees that the service may start sooner. To enforce their right to cancel an agreement within 7 days the consumer should notify the supplier in writing that they wish to do so. When the contract is for the supply of goods the cooling-off period usually starts when the goods are received.

The cooling-off period does not apply in all cases. For example, a consumer is unlikely to be able to cancel a contract if it was for the purchase of food or other perishable goods or for items made to the consumer’s specifications.

In addition to the minimum legal cooling-off period, individual businesses may have their own terms and conditions which allow a longer period in which the consumer can cancel the contract. If a business does allow a longer cancellation period they may be entitled to charge for this. If, however, the charge is very high and / or disproportionate to the financial value of the contract itself it may be an unfair contract term.

As the 14 day period you mention is longer than the legal minimum you should check the written terms and conditions carefully to see what they say about any charge for cancelling. If you were specifically told that there was no charge you could rely on this as an unwritten term of the contract.

Your question raises a further issue about the nature of the agreement reached between you and the broadband provider. You say that the payment scheme is different to what you had agreed. If the difference is substantial you may be entitled to cancel the contract on this basis. In fact if you agreed to one set of terms and the supplier agreed to something else there was arguably never a binding contract. However, you may not be able to cancel on this basis if the difference is trivial and would not have made any difference as to whether or not you agreed to enter into the contract.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Please can you advise: I made a verbal agreement with an investment company to buy some shares. By the time the documentation arrived we had discovered some very adverse informationon this company. I then told the company that I didn't intend to go ahead. Can they hold me to my original verbal agreement which they recorded? Kind regards, Peter
Peter - 6-Oct-16 @ 6:53 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • ContractsAndAgreements
    Re: The Law & Verbal Agreements
    Bernerd - Your Question:I recently paid for my brothers share of a solicitors fee to resolve a family issue. We discussed it…
    22 March 2017
  • N/a
    Re: Title Deeds: Who Keeps Them?
    Hi. After my wife mum died, her dad couldn't cope with her adopted disabled sister who was 16 at the time. She was awarded…
    22 March 2017
  • Kingkong
    Re: Broken Service Agreements
    I have rented a single room and the agreement was that I should pay 1,500ghc for four years and my items got missing frequently and I…
    21 March 2017
  • Bernerd
    Re: The Law & Verbal Agreements
    I recently paid for my brothers share of a solicitors fee to resolve a family issue. We discussed it on the phone, and via…
    21 March 2017
  • Obsolete33
    Re: The Law & Verbal Agreements
    Can you sue someone who made a verbal agreement to enter into a business partnership? Investments have been made and…
    18 March 2017
  • Obsolete33
    Re: The Law & Verbal Agreements
    Can you sue someone who made a verbal agreement to enter into a business partnership? Investments have been made and…
    18 March 2017
  • Clare
    Re: The Law & Verbal Agreements
    Hello, I have a signed agreement of operation to run a tea bar with a local members club. The agreement runs until the end of…
    18 March 2017
  • Chris
    Re: Legally Binding Contracts
    I am currently in court with a client of mine, I sent a quotation and my terms and conditions are set out below our quote, we…
    16 March 2017
  • Rich
    Re: Jurisdiction in Contracts
    can i sue a online retailer for failing to deliver an item in the specified,( and paid extra for) delivery time? they were 10 days…
    13 March 2017
  • KrisK
    Re: What If I Don't Have a Written Contract With My Employer?
    Hi, I'm working in a law office for about 2 years as a receptionist and I've never signed…
    13 March 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ContractsAndAgreements website. Please read our Disclaimer.