Problems with services

The advice sheets below have the lastest information on problems with services. If you need more advice, please call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Buying from business premises: on-premises contracts explained

In the guide

This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales

Traders must comply with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 when they sell goods, services and digital content to consumers from their business premises. These are called 'on-premises' contracts.

Traders must give you certain information before they make a contract with you. They must get your clear agreement if they want to charge you for 'extras'. There are clear rules on delivery and the point at which you become responsible for the goods.

These Regulations also cover 'distance' contracts (when you buy without face-to-face contact with the trader, such as online) and 'off-premises' contracts (for example, when you buy at home or your place of work).

You also have rights and remedies under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 when a trader supplies you with goods, services and digital content.

What is an on-premises contract?

An 'on-premises' contract is a contract between you and a trader that is neither a 'distance' contract nor an 'off-premises' contract. In most cases this means a contract that is made on the business premises of the trader; this includes the trader's permanent place of business as well as temporary sites where they normally operate, such as market stalls.  

It is important to note that if a trader visits you at home and leaves a quotation with you or sends you one later and you do not immediately agree to go ahead with the contract, it becomes an on-premises contract rather than an off-premises contract or distance contract. This means that the trader does not have to give you the same pre-contract information and does not have to give you cancellation rights. The 'Buying at home - off-premises contracts explained' and 'Buying by internet, phone and mail order - distance contracts explained' guides give more information.

Which types of contract do the Regulations apply to?  

The contract you have with the trader will fall into one of the categories of contract listed below:

  • sales contracts. Contracts for the sale of goods, such as household goods and contracts for the supply of goods with services, such as mobile phones with airtime or a central heating system
  • service contracts. Contracts for the supply of services only, such as soft-play centres
  • digital content. Contracts for data that is produced and supplied in a digital form, such as music or film downloads

Which contracts don't the Regulations apply to?  

Some contracts are excluded from these Regulations but they are regulated under other legislation. The excluded contracts are:

  • gambling, including lotteries
  • services of a banking, credit, insurance, personal pension, investment or payment nature
  • creation or sale of immoveable property
  • rental of residential accommodation
  • construction of new buildings or substantially new buildings by the conversion of existing buildings
  • supply of food, drink and other such consumables by a trader on regular rounds to your home, residence or workplace
  • package travel, holidays and tours
  • timeshare, long-term holiday products, resale and exchange contracts
  • goods sold from automatic vending machines
  • contracts made from a public phone and via one single connection by phone, internet or fax

Information the trader must give you  

When you buy goods, services or digital content 'on-premises' you are entitled to expect that the trader provides you with certain information, as set out below, in a clear and understandable way before you enter into the contract. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, this information is included as a term of the contract you have with the trader (unless it relates to the main characteristics of the goods or the main characteristics, functionality and compatibility of digital content). If a trader does not provide you with the required information, or it is changed without your clear agreement, you can make a claim to have your costs (if you have any) reimbursed.

  • main characteristics of the goods, services or digital content
  • identity of the trader, geographical address and telephone number
  • total price of the goods, services or digital content, including taxes. If the price cannot be worked out in advance you must be given the method of calculation
  • any additional delivery charges
  • payment, delivery and performance arrangements and the time the trader expects to take to deliver the goods, perform the service or supply the digital content
  • any complaint handling policy
  • the trader must remind you that they are under a legal duty to supply goods that are in conformity with the contract (in other words, goods that are not faulty)
  • details of any after-sales service and guarantees
  • length of the contract (where applicable). If the contract does not have a set length or is extended automatically you must be given details of how the contract can be ended
  • digital content functionality, including any technical protection measures and any relevant compatibility of digital content with hardware and software

This information forms part of the contract that you have with the trader so if they fail to supply you with the information, or the information is incorrect, then you can take action against them for breach of contract.  

If the trader changes the information either before you make the contract or at a later stage, it does not take effect unless you and the trader have clearly agreed that it will.

Note that this part of the Regulations does not apply to NHS medicinal products or services, passenger transport contracts or day-to-day transactions (for example, buying sweets, a magazine, or any goods or services that you get straight away).

Additional payments under the contract 

If the trader offers you an 'extra' that is linked to the main contract, such as gift wrapping or special delivery, they must always get your clear agreement to charge you for it. This means that the trader cannot have a pre-ticked box in an order form, for example, that you have to 'un-tick' or ask the trader to remove to avoid payment. If you did not agree you will not have to pay, and if you have paid you are entitled to claim a refund.

Telephone helpline charges

If the trader provides a telephone helpline for you to contact them about a contract that you have entered into, they can only charge you the 'basic rate'. This means the normal geographic or mobile rate. If the trader charges you more than the basic rate, you are entitled to reclaim the extra from them.

Delivery of goods  

The trader must deliver the goods to you unless you have agreed otherwise. The goods must be delivered without undue delay or in any event not more than 30 days after the day on which you entered the contract. This does not prevent you and the trader from agreeing your own arrangements for delivery but you should ensure this arrangement is written into the contract.

If any of the following apply:

  • the trader refuses to deliver the goods
  • the trader fails to deliver the goods by the agreed time or within the agreed period and it is clear from circumstances that were apparent when the contract was made that the time or period for delivery was essential
  • you told the trader before you entered into the contact that the time or period for delivery was essential and they failed to meet it
  • in any other circumstances, you specify a period for delivery of the goods, usually in writing, which the trader fails to meet

...you are entitled to cancel the contract and claim a full refund.

If you order multiple goods from the trader and some of them are not delivered on time or not at all, you have an alternative to ending the contract. You can cancel the order for any of the goods or reject goods that have been delivered. The trader must then refund you for the part of the order you cancelled or for the goods you rejected. Where goods form part of a 'commercial unit' - for example, a dining room suite - you cannot cancel part of the order, you have to cancel the whole order.

These Regulations do not prevent you from seeking other remedies for late delivery if you so wish.

When are you responsible for the goods?  

You become responsible for the goods when you, or a person identified by you to take delivery, takes actual possession of them. Until that time, the trader is responsible for them even if they use a carrier. If you organise your own carrier, then the trader is only responsible for the goods until your carrier takes possession of them.

'Distance' & 'off-premises' contracts 

These Regulations also deal with a trader's obligations when they sell without face-to-face contact with you (distance contracts) and when they sell away from their business premises, such as in your home (off-premises contracts).

The 'Buying by internet, phone & mail order - distance contracts explained'  and 'Buying at home - off premises contracts explained' guides give more information.

What about faulty goods or digital content or a service that is below a reasonable standard?

The Regulations described above are in addition to the rights and remedies you have under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 when goods, digital content or services are supplied to you.  

The 'Sale & supply of goods - your consumer rights' , 'Supply of digital content - your consumer rights' and 'Supply of services - your consumer rights' guides give more information on your rights and remedies.

The 'Sale & supply of goods - what to do if things go wrong' , 'Supply of digital content - what to do if things go wrong' and 'Supply of services - what to do if thing go wrong' guides give you a clear direction to follow when you want to complain.

Key legislation

Last reviewed / updated: October 2016

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.

For further information please contact the Citizens Advice consumer service, which provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit the Citizens Advice website or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.