The advice sheets below have the lastest information on problems with other consumer goods and services. If you need more advice, please call the Citizen Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
In the guide
This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales
The Financial Services (Distance Marketing) Regulations 2004 apply to those consumer financial services, including banking, credit and insurance, that are marketed and sold at a distance (such as online, telephone and mail order) without face-to-face contact between you and the supplier or intermediary.
Under the Regulations, the supplier must provide you with pre-purchase information, written and additional information, give you notice of your right to cancel the contract and tell you what the length of the cancellation period is. If you cancel a contract, the supplier must refund you within a period specified in the Regulations. You do not have to pay for financial services you received but did not request.
The supplier must give you information that is specified in the Regulations in good time and before the financial services contract is finalised. You are entitled to expect that the information is clear, easily understood and accurately reflects the contract. The supplier must clearly explain what their business purpose is.
The information that must be given to you is as follows:
If the supplier of a financial service contacts you by phone, they must clearly identify themselves and give the business purpose of their call at the beginning of the conversation with you.
If you agree, the supplier only needs to give you the following information over the phone:
WRITTEN & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The supplier must give you all the terms and conditions that apply to the financial service contract, as well as the pre-purchase information, in writing or in another durable form. You must be given this either in good time before you are legally bound by the contract or immediately after the contract is finalised, if it cannot be provided beforehand.
You have the right to cancel a financial services distance contract orally (where the supplier has indicated they will accept oral cancellations), in writing or in another durable form. If you cancel in writing, you can leave it at the last known address you have for the supplier (it is valid from the day it was left) or send it by post, fax or email (it is valid from the day it was posted / sent). You can also send it by other electronic means such as via an internet address or website.
Where there is a secondary distance contract attached to a financial services distance contract - for example, credit card insurance taken out when you apply for the card - and they are both provided by the same supplier or a third party connected to the supplier, cancellation of the main contract automatically cancels the secondary contract unless you specify otherwise.
If the supplier has given you the written information and terms and conditions specified in the Regulations, the cancellation period begins on the day after the day the financial services distance contract was finalised and ends 14 calendar days later.
If the supplier does not give you the written information specified in the Regulations on or before the contract is finalised, but provides the information, as well as the terms and conditions, at a later stage then the cancellation period begins the day after the day you receive them and ends 14 calendar days later.
In the case of distance contracts for life insurance and personal pensions, the cancellation period is 30 calendar days.
The Regulations set out those contracts to which the right to cancel does not apply:
There are some circumstances where you may still have a right to cancel an excepted contract where the supplier has not complied with their obligations to provide you with written information and terms and conditions. If you have not received this information by the end of the sixth day after the day the contract was finalised, you can cancel it during the period between the seventh day and the day when you receive the last of the written information and terms and conditions.
The supplier must refund you as soon as possible or in any event within 30 calendar days from the date of cancellation. Note that the 30 calendar days refund period can commence from the date the supplier actually received the notice of cancellation, rather than the date you cancelled, if they can prove it is later. You should therefore follow up an oral cancellation as soon as possible with written confirmation. The supplier can deduct a reasonable charge for services actually provided but only if you were informed that charges would be payable. You cannot be charged if services were provided before the cancellation period without your prior request.
If you provided any security as part of the contract, it must be returned to you after you have cancelled.
If you received a sum of money or property from the supplier, you must return it within 30 calendar days from the date you cancelled the contract.
You are entitled to ask for the payment to be cancelled and the amount recredited to your account or returned to you by the card issuer. If the card issuer believes the payment was authorised, it is for them to prove it.
If you received unsolicited financial services (which means those that you have not requested) you are under no obligation to pay for them.
Offences are committed if a supplier fails to provide details of their identity and their commercial purpose. Supplying unsolicited financial services, demanding payment, threatening legal proceedings, placing you on a defaulter's register or starting / threatening collection procedures are all offences.
These Regulations are enforced by the Financial Conduct Authority and trading standards. If you have a complaint, you should report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service for referral to trading standards.
Last reviewed / updated: June 2016
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 (opens in a new window) or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.