Thinking of Appointing a Tradesman? Think carefully before doing so!
NACE continue to receive complaints surrounding tradesman negligence, this ranges from physical incompetence to administrative malpractice yet consumers/homeowners appear unable to determine the legal difference between an estimate/quotation and a binding consumer contract!
Put simply, anyone belonging to a competent person scheme such as Gas Safe, Oftec or Hetas must, according to their terms of registration, provide a legally binding contract as well as setting out the cost of each and every component and the reasoning for installing such components, refunds and cancelation charges if any, other self-employed tradesman must provide the very same protection with your right to cancel within 14 days of commitment.
The consumer/homeowner must also satisfy themselves that the person and/or business they are employing are competent to carryout the work they have been contracted for and to satisfy themselves that the tradesman/contractor does indeed have both Public Liability and Professional indemnity insurance cover, changes to the Building Regulations now make it even more onerous upon the consumer/homeowner to comply with the requirements of the Building Regulations.
Ultimately, all consumers/homeowners have rights under and in accordance with the Consumer Rights Act 2015, these are considerable, tradesmen/contractors must recognise these rights in both the manner in which they conduct their business and in your safety/wellbeing.
The following guidance has been prepared so that you fully understand that an estimate/quotation offers little in the way of protection and should never be solely relied upon in matters appertaining to work to and on a domestic dwelling.
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 require traders to give you certain information.
The Regulations came into force on 13 June 2014 and apply to contracts entered into on or after that date.
The specific information varies depending on whether the sale is made at a distance (for example, online or over the phone) or face-to-face somewhere that's not the business premises of the trader (also known as 'off-premises') or in a store.
For distance or off-premises sales.
Key information which the trader must provide includes:
• A description of the goods, service or digital content, including how long any commitment will last on the part of the consumer
• The total price of the goods, service or digital service or the manner in which the price will be calculated if this can’t be determined
• How you will pay for the goods or services and when they will be provided to you
• All additional delivery charges and other costs (and if these charges can't be calculated in advance, the fact that they may be payable)
• Details of who pays for the cost of returning items if you have a right to cancel and change your mind
• Details of any right to cancel - the trader also needs to provide, or make available, a standard cancellation form to make cancelling easy (although you aren’t under any obligation to use it)
• Information about the seller, including their geographical address andcontact details and the address and identity of any other trader for whom the trader is acting
• Information on the compatibility of digital content with hardware and the software that the trader is aware of (or can reasonably be expected to be aware of).
Delivery of key information
Failure to provide the required information, or to provide it in the way set out in the regulations, could result in cancellation rights being extended by up to a year.
The information should be given in writing in a 'durable medium' such as on paper or by email.
Alternatively, it can be provided in a way appropriate to the means of communication, so verbally if the contract is made by phone.
You are also entitled to confirmation of the contract and if the information wasn’t initially provided in a durable form, the trader must provide it at the point of confirmation.
On-premises sales. The trader doesn’t have to provide as much information in this instance, but it must still provide certain information.
For example, information about the goods or services being bought, the price, the compatibility of digital content and details of any delivery costs.
What are my rights under the Consumer Contracts Regulations?
• Your right to cancel an order for goods made at a distance starts from the moment you place your order and ends 14 days from the day you receive your goods
• Your right to cancel a service made at a distance starts the moment you enter into the contract and lasts 14 days
• If you want to download digital content within the 14 day cancellation period you must agree to waive your cancellation rights
• Companies are not allowed to charge you for items they put in your online shopping basket or that you have bought as a result of a pre-ticked box
Cancelling goods and services
The Consumer Contracts Regulations also give you key cancellation rights when you enter into contracts at a distance over the phone, online, from a catalogue or face-to-face with someone who has visited your home, for instance.
These cancellation rights are more generous than if you bought goods or services from a high street shop. For details on your rights when you buy from a high street shop, read our guide to the Consumer Rights Act.
Your right to cancel
Your right to cancel an order for goods starts the moment you place your order and ends 14 days from the day you receive your goods.
If your order consists of multiple goods, the 14 day period runs from when you get the last of the batch.
This 14 day period is the time you have to decide whether to cancel, you then have a further 14 days to actually send the goods back.
Your right to a refund
You should get a refund within 14 days of either the trader getting the goods back, or you providing evidence of having returned the goods (for example, a proof of postage receipt from the post office), whichever is the sooner.
If the retailer has offered to collect the goods, it should refund you 14 days from the date you informed it you wanted to cancel the contract. So, this means you don't have to wait for the retailer to have collected the goods to get your refund.
A deduction can be made if the value of the goods has been reduced as a result of you handling the goods more than was necessary.
The extent to which you can handle the goods is the same as it would be if you were assessing them in a shop.
Refunding the cost of delivery
The trader has to refund the basic delivery cost of getting the goods to you in the first place, so if you opted for enhanced service eg guaranteed next day, it only has to refund the basic cost.
There are some circumstances where the Consumer Contracts Regulations won’t give you a right to cancel.
These include, CDs, DVDs or software if you've broken the seal on the wrapping, perishable items and tailor-made or personalised items. They also include goods with a seal for health protection and hygiene reasons that's been broken.
Also included are goods that have been mixed inseparably with other items after delivery.
Always check the terms and conditions
The minimum cancellation period that you must be given is 14 days but many sellers choose to exceed this, so always check the terms and conditions in case you have longer to change your mind.
Your right to cancel. You have 14 days from entering into a service contract in which you can cancel it.
The trader shouldn’t start providing the service before the 14 day cancellation period has ended, unless you have requested this.
If you request a service starts straightaway. In this instance you will still have the right to cancel, but you must pay for the value of the service that is provided up to the point you cancel.
For example, if you buy a service like gym membership and start using the gym and then change your mind within this 14 day time period, you will be refunded but could be charged for the amount of gym time you used.
If the service is provided in full within 14 days. The right to cancel can be lost during the cancellation period if the service is provided in full before the 14 days elapses.
Exemptions. There are some contracts where you won’t have a right to cancel a service. For example, hotel bookings, flights, car hire, concerts and other event tickets, or where the trader is carrying out urgent repairs or maintenance.
Always check the terms & conditions. 14 days is the minimum cancellation period that consumers must be given and many sellers choose to exceed this, so always check the terms and conditions in case you have longer to change your mind.