In the guide

Off-premises sales are contracts that are made away from your business - at the customer's home or workplace, for example

This is a complicated area and more detail is provided in the 'Consumer contracts - off-premises sales' In-depth Guide.

If you sell on your business premises or at a distance (online, for example) you will also need to read the other relevant In-depth Guides - 'Consumer contracts - on-premises sales' and 'Consumer contracts - distance sales' - to avoid tripping up over this legislation.

This downloadable scenarios document will help you decide where contracts are made.

The following are off-premises contracts:

  • contracts made in the customer's home or place of work - such as home improvements or doorstep selling (where the customer makes the order straight away)
  • if you organise an excursion to promote and sell your goods or services
  • if the consumer makes an offer to buy while you are with them, away from your business premises - for example, you visit a consumer to quote to decorate their lounge, but rather than you proposing the price, they do, and you go away to think about it
  • if a contract was concluded on your business premises immediately after you had communicated with the consumer when you were not on your business premises - for example, if you discussed the sale as part of a promotion in the street near your shop

So what's it all about? Broadly speaking:

  • you must provide consumers with certain information before the contract is made
  • you must obtain the consumer's clear agreement if you want to charge for additional items (no pre-ticked boxes in the contract)
  • customer helplines must cost no more than the basic rate
  • you have obligations on delivery, including the point at which the consumer becomes responsible for the goods
Selling and supplying goods, digital content and services
Obligations apply if you sell or supply consumers with goods or digital content that are not of satisfactory quality, not as described or not fit for purpose, or if you provide services that are below standard. You can find out more in the following Quick Guides: 'Goods', 'Digital' and 'Services'

What's not covered?

There are certain contracts - including contracts for less than £42 and contracts that are finalised in certain ways - that the Regulations don't cover. Check the 'Consumer contracts - off-premises sales' In-depth Guide if you're not sure whether you're covered.

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Information requirements

There is some very specific information you must give to consumers in a clear, legible and understandable way before you enter into an agreement with them. This covers such things as your trading address, pricing, complaint-handling policy and cancellation rights. If you do not give certain parts of this information the consumer does not have to pay.

The In-depth Guide contains a table with detailed information on the requirements.

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Repair or maintenance contracts

If you provide a repair or maintenance service that a consumer has asked you to carry out immediately, and it is less than £170, you do not have to provide the information listed above. However, there are rules that you must satisfy before and after the contract is made - see the In-depth Guide for more detail.

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Cancellation rights

There are certain contracts that a consumer does not have the right to cancel, and there are circumstances when a consumer's actions can affect his right to cancel, such as combining goods with other goods so that they become inseparable after delivery; see the 'Consumer contracts - off-premises sales' In-depth Guide for more information.

For other contracts, generally speaking, consumers have the right to cancel a contract at any time and for any reason within a 14-day cancellation period.

The rules on cancellation are much more detailed than this, however, so you will need to read the In-depth Guide to get the full picture.

Customer has used the goods
If the consumer handled the goods more than was necessary to decide if they were suitable, you may be able to recover compensation from the consumer up to the contract price
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Additional payments

You must always get the consumer's clear agreement to charge an additional payment for something that is linked to the main contract, such as gift-wrapping or enhanced delivery. This means that you cannot have a default option (a pre-ticked box, for example) that consumers have to un-tick to avoid payment.

Consumers who have not agreed will not have to pay; and if they have paid, they can claim a refund from you.

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Helpline phone charges

If you provide a telephone helpline for consumers to contact you about goods, services or digital content they have bought, you can only charge the 'basic rate'. This means the normal geographic or mobile rate. Consumers who have paid more than the basic rate can claim the extra from you.

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Delivery & risk

Unless you both agree otherwise, you must deliver the goods to the consumer. This should be on the agreed delivery date, without undue delay, or not more than 30 days from the day the contract was made, depending on the contract.

You remain responsible for the goods until the consumer, or someone he has nominated, takes possession of them.

For more detailed information please see the In-depth Guides below. Once you've finished, make sure you look at the full range of Quick Guides to see whether there are any other areas of law that affect your business.

Before you start
Make sure you choose your location using the drop-down list at the top of the page. The In-depth Guides provide country-specific information as some laws are different in England, Scotland and Wales, and some are enforced differently
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In-depth guidance

This is a general guide and you may well need to know more; take a look below where we've listed our In-depth Guides on specific topics related to off-premises sales

General

Consumer contracts – off-premises sales

The rules when you form contracts away from your business premises, including information requirements and cancellation rights

Other

Consumer protection from unfair trading

When dealing with consumers you must ensure that you act fairly; you must provide accurate information and avoid business practices that are unfair, misleading or aggressive

Returns policies

Find out when your customer is entitled to a refund, replacement or repair

The sale & supply of goods

Understand what your obligations are – under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – when a consumer buys goods from you

Unfair contract terms

Contract terms are not binding on consumers unless they are fair

Digital content

Understand what your obligations are – under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – when you supply digital content to a consumer

The supply of services

Understand what your obligations are – under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – when you supply services to a consumer

Feedback

Consumer enquiries from England, Scotland and Wales are handled by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service who can be contacted by telephone on 03454 04 05 06. Consumer enquiries in Northern Ireland are handled by ConsumerLine who can be contacted by telephone on 0300 1236262. Call charges may vary.

Business enquiries are dealt with by your local council. Use the Chartered Trading Standards Institute's postcode finder to locate your local trading standards team.