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“I called to find out about Quickie’s £67 offer,” Tendai explains. She claims she was told it would be better to take the company’s £347 Managed Divorce service, so proceedings could start immediately. She agreed and paid with her Barclays debit card.
“I was unaware of the terms at this stage but was told I had a 14-day cooling-off period and should create an account online. I believed them and registered,” she says.
That was on March 11.
The next morning following a phone consultation, she decided the Managed Divorce package was not for her. he cancelled by email an hour later, was instructed she must do that officially, and did so after finishing work that day.
But Quickie-Divorce, based in Bridgend in Wales, rejected her refund request on the grounds she had registered, agreed the terms and had downloaded content, therefore using its services and disqualifying her from the cooling-off period.
++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer and small business champion Maisha Frost on [email protected] ++
But Tendai was adamant she had just followed instructions, and asked Crusader for help.
Together we nailed the record of what she did. Both the consultation and the cancellation required her to log in, but when she did so it was to register and then cancel, not access expertise.
The company then offered her time to think about her decision, but Tendai had had enough.
When Crusader asked the company for a refund, it said it could only discuss the matter if she gave her permission. We did that, but did not hear again.
While paying by credit card and its legal rights would have given her more protection, there was the chargeback option through her debit card.
Well supported by Barclays, to whom we gave all the evidence, it sent her a pre-credit while Visa considered the matter. It has now upheld the chargeback.
“I couldn’t have fought this alone,” said Tendai when thanking all of us. She is now using the government’s divorce service.
· Tendai’s name has been changed.
Cancelling a contract – how not to get caught out and lose money
Solicitor Joanne Lezemore of consumer advice service counsels: “Consumers must be told what any cooling off period is and how to cancel. Where that could be affected, i.e. by downloading or streaming, or the service commencing within the cooling-off period, consumers must be warned at the outset (whether the contract is entered into online or on the telephone).
“Even if some service is performed within the cooling-off period, the consumer may still cancel and be offered a pro-rata refund.”
A company cannot dictate how a refund must be requested. “All the consumer has to do is make a clear statement that they wish to cancel,” advises Lezemore.
“As soon as a request for a refund is made, such a refund should be effected within 14 days of the consumer stating that they wish to cancel.
“If the correct notice of cancellation is not given, the time is extended by up to one year.”
Where downloaded or streamed digital content is the issue a company would need to show a customer had done that.
“How often do we go online, order goods and services and simply tick the box agreeing to the terms and conditions without ever reading them? Too often!!,” says Lezemore.
“For many goods and services purchased online, we all know there is a 14-day cooling-off period, but what many do not know, is that there are exceptions, for example, holiday accommodation, digital downloads and some services – the time we have to cancel, and what refund can be obtained must be set out in the terms and conditions before the contract is entered into.
“If you cannot easily find, or access the terms and conditions, let the warning bells ring.”
Also, check where a company is based, she warns, as different rules apply depending on the country from where you buy the goods, and, if you are buying from outside of the UK, getting a refund in the case of a dispute could be costly.
For any goods purchased online, if they are over £100 and less than £30,000 then consider making the purchase (or part payment) on your credit card – therefore if there is a dispute you can claim against the card provider, rather than the retailer, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
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