Cooling Off Period

What is a Cooling Off Period?

A Cooling Off Period is time allowed under law to enable a consumer to cancel an agreement without incurring any penalty. In consumer credit, the Cooling Off Period permitted by the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and its subsequent enhancements is 14 days.

If you enter a non-credit related agreement at your home, other law permits a Cooling Off Period of 7 days.

If you buy anything over the internet, by mail order, or by phone, under the Distance Selling Regulations the cooling off period is also 7 days, but commence on the day after you agree to take the goods or service.

If you are entitled to cancel a credit agreement, you must be sent a cancellation notice within the cooling off period explaining that you have the right to cancel the agreement. A cancellation form will be enclosed with the notice and you can use this (or write a letter) to cancel the agreement. Should you decide to cancel, the cancellation must be sent to the lender within five days of receiving the notice, preferably by recorded delivery. A telephone call will not normally be sufficient.

It`s worth noting that if the trader has failed to provide you with the required information about your right to cancel, then the cooling-off period will be accordingly longer. You may require legal advice on this issue. Always check the terms and conditions of the contract.


Q: Does that mean I can just give something back within the cooling off period if I don’t like it?

A: No. There are a number of exceptions to the 14 day cooling off period that prevent people making returns if they change their mind; that includes perishables, CDs that require a wrapping seal to be broken, personalised items or something that requires a deposit. You may also find that most private sellers do not adhere to cooling off periods.

Q: Do they apply for cars, mortgages and other big purchases?

A: Rarely- if you change your mind when in the house buying process you’ll need to make it as far in advance of moving into the property as possible. When buying a car if you’ve paid a deposit it is taken as a sign that you have committed to buy the car and if you decide to break off the agreement you are liable to lose the cost of the deposit.

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