Press releases

Template letter launched to help cancel online purchases

Buyers who are unsure of their rights if they change their mind after buying goods online can now get help in a 'click'.

The national Consumer Direct website will today (Mon) launch a new template letter that consumers can download or print off if they want to cancel after receiving unwanted or unsuitable products online.

The move comes amid growing evidence that most shoppers - and an alarmingly high number of online companies - don't know about the cancellation rights and regulations in force to protect consumers.

'We are concerned that many people might be put off buying online because they think it is too risky. We want to ensure consumers are aware of the protection in place,' said Michele Shambrook of Consumer Direct, the online and telephone consumer advice service which works in partnership with local authority trading standards services.

Ron Gainsford, chief executive of the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), added it was important for consumers to arm themselves with the knowledge they needed to ensure they were getting a fair deal.

The cancellation letter will advise the seller that the item is being returned under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, which say:

  • Buyers are entitled to a full refund on MOST products bought online if cancelled within SEVEN working days after the day of receipt
  • If returning goods, buyers are entitled to a refund of the original delivery cost but check the terms and conditions to see who will cover the cost of returning them
  • Traders are not allowed to deduct a restocking charge or administration fee for returned goods
  • Buyers who wish to cancel must take reasonable care of the goods being returned

A recent fact-finding survey into online shopping, carried out by the Office of Fair Trading, found that internet users who are too worried to buy online could be missing savings of £175 to £350 million each year.

Michele added: 'More and more shoppers would be prepared to buy online if they were confident about their rights if things go wrong, or if they don't like what they get.

'Research shows that many companies are not fully aware of their rights and obligations. By using this template letter, buyers can demonstrate that they are aware of their rights, and this will help ensure that they are dealt with fairly.'

For a full list of tips and advice when buying online, whether through retail sites or via online auctions, please visit Consumer Direct.

If a trader fails to resolve a complaint adequately, contact Consumer Direct or by calling 08454 04 05 06

NCW 2007 was launched at the Office of Fair Trading, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London EC4Y 8JX, this morning. (Monday 12 November)

For more information about NCW generally, including press releases, case studies & interviews, or to discuss your requirements at the launch itself, please contact the TSI press office on 0845 608 9430 or email