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Door to Door Sales Regulations

Often called cold calling, door to door selling is not illegal in the United Kingdom. Even so, canvassers must follow doorstep selling regulations to avoid penalties and prosecution.

DOORSTEP SELLERS: In fact, doorstep selling is a legitimate method of canvassing business. According to UK law, you can sell door to door.

But, as a salesperson making unsolicited calls, you would need to provide certain information to your customers.

Doorstep selling regulations would apply if you sell goods and services face-to-face to customers at:

  • The place where they live
  • The place where they work
  • The home of another individual

Note: Traders must comply with the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. As such, that means following the general rules on accepting returns and giving refunds.

Law on Taking Orders from Doorstep Selling

Under door to door sales laws, before a customer places an order the salesperson must provide them with:

  • The name, address, and contact details of their business. If you are doorstep selling for another company you must also give the same details to the customer.
  • An address that deals with customer complaints (if different to the business address).
  • A ‘fair’ description of the goods or the services you are offering. Include a reminder that goods must be of reasonable quality and as described.
  • The amount the customer would need to pay or how it would get calculated. You must also inform them how they can make a payment.
  • Any specific delivery arrangements, including the cost and how long it would take for the goods to arrive.
  • The minimum length of the sales contract and the billing period. You must also include the cost for any open-ended contracts or subscriptions.
  • Any specific conditions for ending rolling contracts or sales contracts without a clear end date.
  • A method for canceling the order and when the customer would lose their right to cancel it. You should provide them with a standard cancellation form (if canceling is an option).
  • Information on whether they would need to pay any reasonable costs for using a service after a cancellation.
  • The amount and any conditions for deposits or other methods used as financial guarantees.
  • Details on what digital content does and what software it works with (where applicable). This may include the language used or the operating system it functions with.
  • The cost to use telephone lines or other communication to complete the contract in cases where it would cost more than basic call rates.
  • Access to the details of the part of a code of conduct or dispute resolution scheme (where applicable).
  • Information on any specific complaints handling policy and how it works. It should also include details on the conditions of any guarantees, services, or after sales assistance.

Note: The information must be intelligible and easy for the customer to understand. As a rule, the format must be one that the customer can save for future reference (e.g. a form, on paper, or in an email).

Customers Right to Cancel an Order

The seller must inform the customer of the ‘cooling-off’ term. The customer may cancel their order up to fourteen (14) calendar days after the conclusion of a contract. There is no requirement for them to give a reason for the cancellation.

Failing to inform the customer about their right to cancel means they may end the order at any time in the forthcoming twelve (12) months. Telling them about their cancellation rights during this 12 month period means they would then get fourteen (14) days to cancel.

Note:Not telling a customer their right to cancel can mean an unlimited fine and a prison sentence (up to 2 years).

Costs a Customer Would Not Have to Pay

There can be certain situations when a customer does not have to pay. For example, they would not need to pay for some costs if they do not get informed about them in advance, such as:

  • Costs relating to the conditions of the customer’s right to cancel.
  • Extra costs needed for the delivery of the goods.
  • Extra charges for returning the goods (e.g. because they are too big for normal postal methods).

After a Customer Places an Order

After an order is placed, the customer would need to know when the contract gets confirmed. They would also need confirmation of previous information they received before placing the order. In most cases, confirmation in paper format would be acceptable.

Once a customer places an order with a door to door salesperson, the seller must also:

  • Deliver the goods without delay and within thirty (30) days (unless the customer agrees otherwise).
  • Provide the service without delay (unless the customer agrees to a different or specific time period).

Note: As a rule, you would need a certificate to sell goods door to door as a pedlar. A different section explains how to apply for a pedlar’s certificate at a police station.

Exceptions to Doorstep Selling Rules

There are some exemptions or exclusions to the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. The United Kingdom door to door sales laws do not apply to:

  • Contracts for goods and services with a value of £42 (or less)
  • Contracts that involve passenger transport services or package travel (e.g. bus, flight, or train tickets)
  • Package holidays, holiday clubs, and timeshares
  • Contracts for NHS prescriptions and medical products (includes free and paid for treatment)
  • Land, insurance, and financial services (e.g. credit, mortgages, pensions)
  • Contracts for the construction of new buildings (not property extensions)
  • The supply of food and drink ‘perishable goods’ when supplied on a regular basis (e.g. from a milkman)
  • Gambling
  • Goods bought from a vending machine
  • Using a payphone or paying to use an Internet connection (e.g. at an Internet café)
  • Contracts that let a property that the customer will live in, such as renting a flat or a house (not estate agent marketing services)

Doorstep Crime Advice

Rogue traders who come knocking on your door uninvited may be trying to commit doorstep crime. Often, they will try to pressure you into signing up for a service or buying something from them.

The general method used by bogus callers is one of intimidation. Often, they will try to sell their goods in a way that is frightening and menacing.

Doorstep Crime Definition

A simple explanation of how doorstep crime works would be traders who knock on your door and then:

  • Say you need some work doing such as gardening, guttering, paving, or roofing. They will tell you that your home is in need of urgent repair. The aim is to panic you into having the work done.
  • Take a deposit and fail to return to carry out the work. Those that do come back may charge unreasonable prices. Sometimes, the unscrupulous ones will also increase the price as the job progresses.
  • Fail to provide customers with cancellation policies. They rarely give cancellation notices, work guarantees, or warranties.
  • Carry out shoddy and poor quality work. The effects of doorstep crimes can mean it is very difficult to get workers to sort out problems or to finish the job in hand.
How to Avoid Doorstep Selling Scams

In fact, not everyone who sells at the doorstep will commit a crime. But, there are several ways you can stay protected and try to avoid the scams used by doorstep sellers, such as:

  • Avoid agreeing to buy something as a way to stop the pressure selling. The seller cannot force you into buying anything from them.
  • Always check the ID card of the seller. Keep a note of the contact address and phone number if possible.
  • Not leaving your home or workplace after telling them to is a criminal offence. Contact the local police if bogus callers refuse to leave.
  • Always get a proper receipt for any purchases that you make. Note that guarantees are worthless if the business ‘suddenly’ vanishes or stops trading altogether.
  • Refuse to pay the full amount in advance or make a large deposit up front. Always keep a copy of any paperwork given to you (e.g. an advert or a flyer).

Note: You can report the incident to Action Fraud if you have been the victim of bogus tradesmen fraud.

Door to Door Sales Laws in United Kingdom