Know your rights: Shopping online refunds

I bought something online. Can I change my mind and get a refund even though it’s not faulty?

You are not automatically entitled to a refund when returning an item you bought in a shop because you have simply changed your mind. If there is nothing wrong with the item (for example, there isn’t a fault) then you have no legal right to return the goods.

The situation is different for purchases made online. When you buy online you are entering into a contract called a distance contract. With this type of contract, you do not enter the contract in person and you cannot check the products before you buy. Because of this, you have additional protections under EU law.

Your cancellation rights

Under the Consumer Rights Directive, you have 14 calendar days to change your mind without having to give a reason. This right to cancel is also known as the ‘cooling-off period’.

For products bought online, your right to cancel the order starts the moment you receive the product. You have 14 days to tell the seller you want to cancel and then a further 14 days to return the item. You may have to pay for the cost of returning the item.

Right to a refund with 14 days of cancellation

You must be refunded within 14 days of cancellation, including standard delivery costs. A seller may not process the refund until they have proof that goods have been sent back.

Does my right to cancel apply to all online purchases?

The cooling-off period does not apply to certain purchases. Examples are personalised products or leisure services such as hotel bookings, car rental or concert tickets.

The Consumer Rights Directive does not apply:

  • If you buy something online from a trader who is based outside the EU, for example you buy an item from a Chinese website
  • To consumer-to-consumer deals, that is where you buy from a private individual

Brexit and buying online from a UK business

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020 and is now in a transition period while the UK and EU negotiate additional arrangements.  If you are buying online from a UK trader, your consumer rights remain the same during the transition period (until 31 December 2020).

You can find out more on your consumer rights by visiting

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