In the guide

Services are provided by businesses such as accountants, dry cleaners, paid-parking providers, home maintenance firms and motor vehicle repairers

A legal contract for the supply of a service exists between you and your customer. This means that you are responsible for the services that you provide.

The law sets out requirements for the performance of the service, time limits for legal action, and what customers are entitled to when something goes wrong.

Note
These rules apply whether or not you also supply goods and/or digital content as part of the same contract. If you supply goods and/or digital content as well (for example, materials used on a job, or fitting a kitchen / installing block paving you have supplied) there are additional rules that apply to you, so you'll need to read the In-depth Guides 'The supply of services' and 'Digital content'

Services: your obligations

If you supply services you have legal responsibilities, which means you must carry out the service:

  • with reasonable care and skill
  • in accordance with anything you or your agents / employees have told the consumer
  • within a reasonable time (if the time was not fixed as part of the contract)
  • at a reasonable charge (if the price was not fixed in advance as part of the contract)

You should carry out only the work that had been agreed or authorised by the consumer. If extra work is needed, get the consumer's permission before you go ahead.

What is 'reasonable' generally depends on what is acceptable practice for your particular trade or profession.

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What customers are entitled to

If the service was not carried out correctly, the consumer can require you to put the problem right. If this is impossible or unsuccessful, the consumer is entitled to a reduction in price. Alternatively, the consumer may be able to claim compensation for losses suffered or for the cost of having the work put right by someone else.

If the service was not carried out within a reasonable time, the consumer is entitled to a reduction in price.

Card payments and credit
There are additional rules that apply when you accept card payments or offer credit. Please see the 'Pricing & payment' Quick Guide for more information 
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Time for action

The law sets a time limit for customers to take legal action. In England and Wales this time limit is generally six years from when the service goes wrong; in Scotland the limit is five years, but this runs from the time the customer first discovered the problem (broadly speaking).

You can also read about time limits in the In-depth Guide 'The supply of services'.

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Disputes

If a consumer is unhappy with the quality of your work, you are obliged to put the problem right free of charge. If you are in dispute with the consumer about whether or not the work is of poor quality, then the consumer needs to prove his claim.

Selling online, by phone / mail order or off-premises
Consumers may have extra rights, including the right to a 14 day cooling-off period in which they can cancel an agreed contract, when they buy at a distance (online, phone, mail order, etc) or off-premises (such as at their home). When you've finished reading this, take a look at our 'Distance sales' and 'Off-premises sales' Quick Guides if these apply to you
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Guarantees

You are legally bound to honour the terms of any free guarantee you offer to consumers.

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 the supply of services

General

Accurately describing products

The law prohibits the giving of false or misleading information to consumers, but what does this mean?

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

Mixed contracts

Understand your obligations when you sell goods, services and/or digital content alongside each other

Online reviews & endorsements

Websites that publish reviews must ensure they provide the full picture to consumers

Unfair contract terms

Contract terms are not binding on consumers unless they are fair

The supply of services

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

Other

Estate agents: property descriptions

What you need to know about applying descriptions to a property

Letting agents: display of fees

Requirements for the display of fees charged to clients by accommodation letting agents

Motor vehicle servicing & repairs

Make sure you meet consumers' expectations when carrying out vehicle servicing and repairs

Package tours & holidays

Recognise what is meant by a package holiday and their specific legal requirements, including brochure descriptions

The sale & resale of tickets

Consumers must not be misled about ticket details, and certain information must be given to the prospective purchaser when tickets are resold

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.