Comply with the law in the provision of goods, facilities and services

Special rules for businesses that sell to customers in their home or workplace

Since 1 October 2008, consumers have had the same rights to a cooling-off period for sales resulting from a solicited call by a trader as they do for sales resulting from an unsolicited visit by a trader to a consumer's home, workplace or at a location arranged by the trader away from their business premises. This means that consumers who agree to purchase goods or services with a total payment value of more than £35 can cancel any agreement within a seven day cooling-off period. Businesses that have not yet done so should review their contracts and sales practices and make necessary adjustments.

Check your responsibilities to consumers when they buy products or services from you in their home or workplace on the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) website.

If you sell goods to consumers online - via the internet, email, digital TV or mobile-phone text messages - you must comply with the distance selling regulations. See the page in this guide on rules for businesses that don't sell to consumers face to face.

Similar requirements apply if you sell goods online to businesses. However, business customers do not have an automatic right to cancel.

Whether you are selling to consumers or businesses, you must provide customers with additional information, including:

  • your VAT number (if applicable)
  • details of membership of any professional organisations
  • an opportunity to correct orders before they are completed

Information on how to place an order, and how to correct errors made while placing it, must be provided before the order is made. You must also acknowledge orders promptly.

Most other information can be made available on your website. Find information on the electronic commerce regulations on the BIS website.

See our guide on distance selling and online trading.

There are also special rules concerning marketing by email that you need to be aware of. You can find out more about these in our guide on email marketing.

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