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Distance Selling Regulations

The Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs) are the rules that apply if you are buying products or services from suppliers without face-to-face contact, and where the consumer has not had an opportunity to examine the goods before buying or discuss the service in person. Examples of distance selling include selling via: the internet, text message, phone call, fax and interactive TV or mail order.

One aim of the DSRs is to ensure a minimum level of consumer protection across the European Union (EU) although other EU countries may have implemented them differently.

The regulations apply to both new and second hand goods regardless of how you pay for the item, as long as the transaction is between a supplier and a consumer.

The regulations say that you:

• must be given clear information about the goods or services before you buy. This is called pre-purchase information

• must receive written information after you have bought the goods or services

• have a right to cancel your order within a seven day cooling-off period

• have a right to have goods or services provided within 30 days after the order was sent, unless otherwise agreed

• can get a refund if items aren’t delivered on the agreed delivery date. If no delivery date is given, you can get a refund if items aren’t delivered within 30 days of placing your order

• have a right to a refund if someone has used your payment card without your permission

• have a right to keep goods delivered to you that you didn’t ask for. These are called unsolicited goods.

When buying at a distance you also have the same legal rights as you would if buying in a shop under the Sale of Goods Act and the Supply of Goods and Services Act.

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling ) Regulations do not cover any of the following purchases:

• financial services such as insurance, personal pension, investment or payment service

• sale of land or buildings except for certain rental agreements

• sale of land plus construction of buildings (a contract to construct when the land is already owned by you would be covered)

• long-term rental agreements (three years or more in England and Wales, one year or more in Scotland)

• auctions

• internet auctions, unless you use a ‘buy now’ function, rather than bidding.

• purchases from vending machines or automated commercial premise

• the use of a telecommunications operator through a public payphone