Summary of the law – Internet purchase – 14 day extra right to a refund

What are your rights?

14 day right to a refund

If you bought an item or a service online, you have the right to cancel your order and get your money back for 14 days. This also applies to buying from a catalogue. With both you are not in a shop and able to see what you’re buying. Instead you may be relying on a photo or short description.

Therfore the law gives you a 14 day cooling-off period. You can use this  because:

  • What you received wasn't quite what you expected.
  • You have just  changed your mind.

14 days to ask for refund:

The Consumer Contracts Regulations June 2014 states that consumers should have a right to a refund when items fail to match the information given prior to purchase and often, more helpfully, for any reason within a minimum 14 day cooling off period. This cancellation period starts the day after the consumer enters into a contract for a service or receives the goods. The retailer has a responsibility to clearly tell buyers in writing how to return the goods, in what time frame and whether they must pay for any returns.

Setting out their returns policy is crucial for retailers, because if they don’t then the consumer’s right to return goods for a refund is extended for a full year.

It also means that buyers have the right to a refund if items aren’t delivered by an agreed date. If no date was agreed, they should get a refund if the items haven’t arrived more than 30 days after placing the order. The regulations also cover contract services ordered online or over the telephone, such as Broadband.

Other rights – if unhappy after the 14 days.  

After the 14 days, then your rights are the same as when buying from a traditional shop. You cannot get your money back just because you have changed your mind – instead something will need to be wrong with the product or service:-

Guarantee: If the company that made the item provided you with  guarantee (sometimes called a warranty)  you can use this if something goes wrong. Each one is different. It gives you the right to claim from the manufacturer whatever is permitted by the terms of that guarantee or warranty. This often lasts 6 months but can be longer.

If you bought from an online shop or business - not a private seller:  - then you also have the same rights as if you’d bought in a shop. 

Exclusions apply to customised and perishable goods, newspapers, periodicals and magazines (not books) as well as sealed audio, video or computer software that have been opened. Immediately accessible purchases of digital downloads are also exempt and the refund period does not apply to auction websites.

You may be able to claim a refund, replacement or a repair (as well as payment of your extra losses and expenses) if the item you bought:

  • Does not match the online description given by the the seller on the website.
  • Does not work properly and is faulty or is not made of a satisfactory quality
  • Is not fit for its intended purpose

Here you can claim against the online seller. Your rights last as long as is reasonable for the particular product (sometimes up to 6 years).  Click here for further details of these  rights that apply to all shops (traditional, catalogue and online) and a sample complaint letter. 

If you bought by credit card paying the seller direct (not via Amazon Marketplace) then you also have the option of claiming from the credit card company


What do you have to prove for the 14 day right to a refund?

You need to send an email, letter or fax to the seller to cancel your order within the 7 day deadline.

If the seller does not accept your right to cancel (and doesn't give you your money back) you would then need to be able to prove:

  1. The date you agreed to buy the item from the seller.
  2. How much you paid.
  3. The date you sent your email (or letter) cancelling the order.

What evidence should you collect together for the 14 day refund?

You will probably have emails and a confirmation of your order that covers the 3 things you’d need to prove if there was a dispute over your right to cancel:

Optional:  If you’re cancelling because the item did not meet the description given, you can also explain the differences and what was misleading about the presentation on the seller’s website.


What can you claim with the 14 day refund?


  • A refund of the price you paid for the item
  • A refund of the postage charges you originally paid (passed onto you by the seller for the seller to post the item to you).
  • Sometimes: The cost of sending the item back to get your refund (see below as to whether you can also claim this back):

Can you claim back the cost of sending back the item?:

If the item was faulty and you bought from an online shop (not an individual) you do not have to pay the cost of sending it back.

If the item was not faulty then:

1: check the  seller's terms and conditions (T&Cs) or returns policy to see who has to pay  the cost of returning the item. 

2: If the T&Cs don't say you have to pay the return post costs  then the seller has to cover the cost. 

Note: The seller cannot charge you any other charges for using your 7 day right to return the item such as an administration fee or a restocking fee.

Note: From June 2014 any return postage charges must be made clear at the time of purchase (and not just be buried in long T&Cs), even providing an estimate of the cost for bulky items.


What is the deadline for the refund? 


You must contact the seller within 14 days of receiving the item.

The 14 day deadline starts from the day after you receive your item. The seller then has 30 days to make the refund.


 Example cancellations


Changed your mind about a purchase

Item isn’t suitable anymore

Item is not what you were expecting – perhaps very small in real life compared to impression from website. 



Disclaimer reminder


Please note: To give you general information about your dispute, the information given here is a simplification of a complex area of law and cannot be relied upon. Before taking action please use our Small Claims service to get specialist legal advice on your specific circumstances. See the full terms and conditions of this website


Complaint letter - Internet purchase – 14 day extra right to a refund


Information to include

Sample letter – Internet purchase dispute


Start of official letter to other side.

[If you know the person’s name]: Dear Mr Smith,

[If you do not know their name]: Dear Sirs,



Details of your online purchase

Optional paragraph - Description relied on: - only include if it applies because you are returning because the item did not match the website description you should give details. 


On 23 February 2014 I purchased a blue leather hand bag from you.

Description relied on: The bag was described to have a ‘mock croc’ design and came with both a plain blue leather strap and also a gold link chain.

I made the purchase using your website relying on the pictures and item description provided. 



Details of any payments requested and any payments made.



On 23 February 2014 I paid for cost of the bag and postage (£420 and £19.99) with my visa credit card.

If details of the purchase are disputed I will be able to provide details from my statement.


Optional: Complaint

If there was a problem, say why you are unhappy.

But you can leave out this section as you can return the item and get a refund just because you’ve changed your mind!


Unfortunately, when the bag arrived, the plain blue strap was missing.

I have gone back on your website to check the item description and it does clearly state that the bag comes with two types of straps.

This is very disappointing as the item is not as described


Remedy - refund

You can claim the original cost including postage.

Check the terms and conditions or returns policy on their website.

The seller is allowed to make you pay the cost of sending back the item (where you have changed your mind).
Otherwise they will pick up the return postage cost.

Remedy - refund

Please send me a refund of the £439.99 I have paid for the item and postage.

I am happy for this to be paid by cheque or to be re-applied to the card I used at the time of purchase.

Please also send me the cost of the return postage. If you are happy for me to use second class postage this is £8. If you want to arrange your own collection or use a courier I am happy to cooperate. My contact mobile number is [ ] 



Give your opponent 14 days to reply to the letter – to  either:

give you the remedy that you seek


set out their detailed response.


Please do not ignore this email.

Please reply in the next 14 days, so that this matter can be resolved as requested.

If you do not agree that I am entitled to the remedy sought, then please reply within 14 days with a detailed explanation of why not.



Point out that ignoring your letter will mean you may start legal proceedings for the court to deal with the dispute and that you may refer the judge to your letter.


I am sure it will not prove necessary but if I do not hear from you within 14 days then I reserve the right to start court proceedings without further reference to you. I will ask the court for an order that you pay me £439.99.

If I do have to issue court proceedings, I will refer the court to this letter and I will also ask the court to order you to pay me interest, court fees and legal costs.

I look forward to hearing from you within the next 14 days.



[If you started with their name]:

Yours sincerely,

Ian Rate

[If you started using Dear Sirs]:

Yours faithfully,

Ian Rate