My Consumer Victory: The Distance Selling Regulations

Have you taken on a company and won? Armed with consumer protection laws, Watchdog viewers have been letting us know of their individual battles against the giants and smaller companies letting them down. Nigel Cox took on Acer Direct armed with the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000.

Published 5 June 2013:

The Distance Selling Regulations are for consumers purchasing items without face-to-face contact. This covers items purchased online, through mail order, by phone or from the television.

Commercial Lawyer Mark Weston explains,

‘According to these laws, you should be able to return goods within 7 days of receiving them. The Regulations state that you can return the goods you’ve bought within that time frame for any reason.’

What happened?


Nigel Cox, a self-employed architect from Milton Keynes, bought a computer from Acer Direct via the Internet after his previous computer broke.

However, once his delivery arrived he experienced some problems getting the computer to work. He was having particular problems connecting to the Internet and so he complained to Acer Direct.

Acer Direct agreed to pick up the computer for testing, which was carried out a few days later.

But they were unable to find a fault.

Nigel explains,

‘They told me that they’d carried out some tests but there was nothing wrong with the computer. I was furious because I knew it was broken. I disputed this repeatedly with them but they wouldn’t listen.’

Acer Direct did offer a refund under their ‘No Quibble’ Return Policy. But said that it would be less a collection fee, and a further 10% deduction for damage they said was caused by Nigel. Alternatively he could have the computer sent back to him as it was. But he refused and began researching his rights under the Distance Selling Regulations instead.

Commercial Lawyer Mark Weston explains,

'They were brought in in the year 2000 primarily because of a European law which was intended to strengthen consumer rights, basically because so many more transactions were happening over the internet.

The laws are very powerful and they give you two main rights. The first of those is the right to receive certain information, such as who the seller is, how much the goods are costing, what you’re paying for, and what the delivery charges are.

And then you have the cancellation right itself, where within certain time periods, you can cancel your distance contract for no reason whatsoever.'

What steps did he take?


Nigel originally wanted his money back due to a fault. But the regulations allow you to return goods, even if they’re in full working order, as long as this is done within the specified time frame. However, if there is a fault with the item the Regulations state that you do not have to pay the costs of collection.

Nigel wanted a full refund so he wrote to the company referencing the Distance Selling Regulations, telling them again that the computer was faulty.

And he copied in the Managing Director, for good measure.

His victory


Two weeks later Nigel received a letter from Acer Direct stating that the company would refund him in full, £688.92.

They said that they had checked the computer again and found a fault, the very same fault that he had told them about in the first place.

Nigel said, 'Without the Distance Selling Regulations, I could be stuck with a computer that doesn’t work, which would have left a very bad taste in my mouth with Acer Direct, but fortunately the power of the Distance Selling Regulations helped me out'

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