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- What if I buy by phone or mail order, or over the internet?
What if I buy by phone or mail order, or over the internet?
In general, the laws that apply to buying things in shops also apply when you buy by phone or mail order or over the internet.
The Distance Selling Regulations give you extra protection when buying from any European Union country:
- by mail order;
- by fax;
- by phone;
- over the internet; or
- through a TV shopping channel or any interactive TV shopping service.
However, they don't cover auctions (including internet auctions), or buying from countries outside the European Union, such as Switzerland, Canada or the USA.
These regulations mean you must be told the name and address of the supplier and the price, including tax and delivery charges before you buy. You must also be given certain information in writing (which could be an email) about your rights, including:
- how to cancel an order;
- how to return goods; and
- details of any guarantees or
- after-sales service.
In most cases, you must also get a 'cooling-off period' of seven working days. This means you can cancel your order, without having to pay anything, within seven working days of receiving the goods or, in the case of a service, of placing the order. But if you agree to a service (work on your home, for example) that will start within that seven-day period, and you've received the written information about your rights before that work starts, then your right to cancel ends when the work starts.
Also, you can't return certain types of item, including:
- bespoke (tailor-made) or personalised goods;
- perishables (such as fresh food);
- CDs, DVDs or computer software if you've opened the packaging.
You must also be protected against fraudulent use of your credit card details.
The regulations don't cover everything you can buy. For example, separate rules cover holidays and financial services (such as loans and investments).
This content is subject to Crown Copyright
Although advertising is required by companies in order to attract custom, some companies set out to mislead consumers with their advertisements by trying to sell goods or services that are not what they purport to be. These types of advertisements are against the law.
Codes of practice are important because they help to ensure that you, the consumer, get a fair deal from a trustworthy business. On this page you will find out about the schemes in place throughout the UK.
What do you do when you want to know where a product comes from, how it was made, or whether the workers were properly paid? You look at the label! Here we explain what labels companies are allowed to use, and give you some tips for logos to look for.
Identity theft, online fraud and credit card fraud have increased dramatically in recent years. There are a number of simple steps you can take to prevent criminals or fraudsters getting the information they need to steal money from you or use your identity.
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If you download a song, film, game or software from a file-sharing website or another website (such as a page on a social-networking site) where it's made available, and you do not pay for the item or otherwise obtain it under licence from the copyright holder, then you are infringing someone's copyright.