This question is regarding the Consumer Contract Regulations (2013) in UK law. I have chosen to post on here, rather than law.SE, since my question is regarding monetary refunds for items purchased.

Basically, I am a bit confused by them, and by some of the summaries. I am primarily interested in the right to cancel and to return: what items are excluded?

If we look at Part III, in which Right to Cancel, etc, appear, 27.(3) says

(3) This Part does not apply to off-premises contracts under which the payment to be made by the consumer is not more than £42.

This seems pretty unambiguous that if I buy something online for £20, it is not covered by Part III. However, there appears to be nothing on cancellation other than this Part. This Part includes all the stuff that I expected about refunds, etc. But I don't see where any regulations are for cheaper items. Further, if one reads summaries (eg by Which or Money Saving Expert), there is no mention of this £42 -- it just says that you get refunds.

Moving on, there is a part exceptions.

29.—(1) The consumer may cancel a distance or off-premises contract at any time in the cancellation period without giving any reason, and without incurring any liability except under these provisions—

(a) regulation 34(3) (where enhanced delivery chosen by consumer);

(b) regulation 34(9) (where value of goods diminished by consumer handling);

(c) regulation 35(5) (where goods returned by consumer);

(d) regulation 36(4) (where consumer requests early supply of service).

Various online summaries that I have seen say that things like underwear, swimwear and earrings are exempt from the "no-fault returns". However, I don't see anything in this Part which says that this is necessarily the case. Investigating the references further say things like "the value of the goods is diminished by any amount as a result of handling of the goods by the consumer beyond what is necessary to establish the nature, characteristics and functioning of the goods". If one tries on swimwear without damaging it, or just buys multiple pairs of earrings to see which they prefer, then I don't see why there would be a refund.

Can anyone shed some light on what the actual exemptions are?

  • My general impression/recollection is that the exclusion for earrings is often/mostly for pierced rather than clip-on, the assumption being that shops either don't want to resell items that have been "inside someone's earlobe", or can't do so at full price because customers don't want to buy if the shop can't guarantee this. In a similar vein, underwear/swimwear that has been previously worn has been in "more-personal contact" with a stranger than many customers would be happy with. These may or may not be sensible viewpoints, but probably explain the "diminished by consumer handling" clause – TripeHound Jun 29 '20 at 21:43
  • That's what I was wondering. However, it does say "beyond what is necessary to establish the nature, characteristics and functioning of the goods". Clearly for clothes one needs to try them on to establish these. I cannot find any more precise clauses though – Sam OT Jun 29 '20 at 21:51
  • This is definitely a law question, not a personal finance question – marktristan Jun 30 '20 at 10:21
  • I do not frequent either site, so wouldn't like to make the judgement call. I have no objections if a moderator wishes to migrate it, though – Sam OT Jun 30 '20 at 16:57

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