Doorstep selling: Know your rights

It is comforting to know you have the same rights under the Sale of Goods Act as you would if you bought from a shop.

Under the Sale of Goods Act traders must sell goods of satisfactory quality. They must also be fit for purpose and as described. If an item is faulty, or wrongly described, you may have the right to a refund, replacement or repair.

When you buy goods, your contract is with the retailer not the manufacturer and you should always go back to the retailer in the first instance.

In addition, the new Doorstep Selling Regulations introduced in 2008, give you further protection.

If your purchase costs more than £35, you will have a minimum seven-day cooling-off period – this means you can change your mind within that time and cancel the contract if you wish.

By law, the doorstep seller needs to explain this in writing. If they fail to do so they can't hold you to anything in the contract, and it would be classified as a criminal offence.

If you wish to cancel a contract you must do so in writing – either by email or post. The important thing is to do this within seven days of signing the contract – the cancellation is effective on the day you post or email it and not the day the trader receives it. Make sure you keep a proof of it.

Once the contract has been cancelled the seller should repay any money you have paid, including any deposit. You must also return any goods to the salesmen, but you're not required to do this until you get your money back.

If you agreed to buy the goods or services through a credit agreement and you cancel the contract, any related credit agreement will automatically be cancelled except for your duty to repay the credit.

No interest will be due if the credit is repaid within one month of cancellation or before the first payment.

These regulations do not apply to some contracts, including insurance and contracts for mortgages made during a solicited visit.

If you've been ripped off you can contact your local council's trading standards department, which will be able to advise you and it can also prosecute if a crime has occurred.

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