The advice sheets below have the lastest information on problems with goods. 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
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.
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.
The contract you have with the trader will fall into one of the categories of contract listed below:
Some contracts are excluded from these Regulations but they are regulated under other legislation. The excluded contracts are:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
...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.
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.
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.
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.
Last reviewed / updated: October 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.