Do I have to give my customers a 14-day money-back guarantee?

Under The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, a seller may be required to give his customers a 14-day money-back guarantee. However, these rules don’t apply to businesses across the board. They only apply in the case of ‘distant selling’ which means sales that haven’t been made face-to-face.

When a sale takes place in a physical location like a shop, that’s considered to be a face-to-face sale, and these rules don’t apply. In these cases, the customer is not entitled to return the goods within 14 days in order to get a refund, unless there is a defect in the merchandise.

However, if a person buys something over the internet, then this is a case of a ‘distant sale’ and the 14 money-back rules may apply. That’s not the complete story, though, because there’s still a difference between what is called a ‘business sale’ and a ‘consumer sale’.

When a sale is made to a business, in the ordinary course of its trading, this is called a ‘business sale’ and it will be outside the consumer protection rules. Only consumer sales are covered by the 14-day money-back guarantee rule.

Where the rules apply, so long as he notifies the seller within 14 days, the customer will be able to return the goods for any reason whatsoever, (or even no reason at all!) and to get all of his money back. However, that said, there are still some conditions that apply.

For example, if the buyer damages the goods, or returns them in a condition that makes them unsaleable (unless, of course, they were already defective when he initially received them), then the seller will be entitled to deduct a corresponding amount from the refund. He can even withhold the full amount of the purchase price if the goods are now totally unsaleable due to the consumer’s negligent actions.

It’s worth noting that the consumer also has to also pay for the return cost of postage or delivery of the goods back to the seller.

Some specific items are also excluded from the 14-day money-back guarantee rules, even if the buyer is actually a consumer. These items include perishable goods like food products, and also items which can’t be returned for hygiene reasons.

The last thing to note is that these rules can also apply to services, as well as goods, which have been bought online, (or by some other ‘distant selling’ way). Contracts for any services purchased can also be canceled within 14 days without the buyer having to give any reason. There are some limitations that apply here, too, though, which enables the sellers to deduct a proportionate amount of the purchase price if the buyer made use of the service before canceling the contract.

Again, there are some services which are excluded from the rules, including electronically –downloadable material like movies and software, which can’t really be ‘given back’ once you’ve downloaded it. Also, bookings made for entertainment or health treatments, also fall outside the scope of these rules.