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If you were pressured into buying something you didn’t want

This advice applies to England

You have the legal right to a refund if you feel you were unfairly pressured into buying a product or service you didn’t want. You might also be able to get compensation for distress or inconvenience.

There's nothing to be embarrassed about if you've been persuaded to make a purchase you don't want - aggressive selling techniques can be very effective. Just remember you have rights in this situation.

You’ll have to deal with the seller yourself in the first instance, which can be difficult. If you don’t feel confident you can ask someone for help or visit your local Citizens Advice.

If you think you’ve been scammed (ie tricked into buying something by a fraudulent seller) you should read our advice on what to do.

What counts as aggressive selling

Aggressive selling can include behaviour such as:

  • entering your home and refusing to leave until you buy something
  • using ‘scare tactics’ to convince you that you need something
  • telling you that you’ve ordered something that you haven’t
  • constantly contacting you and pestering you into buying something
  • using guilt to force you to buy something, eg telling you they’ll lose their job if you don’t buy something

It doesn’t matter where you were sold the item or service - it can include door-to-door, telephone or in-shop sales.

Example

A salesperson arrives at your house. You ask them to leave but they say they need to get a sale today or they’ll lose their job. They want you to buy an expensive mattress that you don’t need or can’t afford, and they give you a piece of paper that says you can pay the mattress off over the next 12 months. You sign just so that they’ll leave your house.

If you think a seller might have been aggressive but you’re not sure if you’re entitled to a refund you should call the Consumer Service helpline and explain what’s happened. They’ll advise you on your rights. Contact Consumerline if you're in Northern Ireland.

Getting a refund or discount

If the seller was aggressive, you’re legally entitled to a full refund if all the following apply:

  • you got the product or started the service less than 90 days ago
  • you haven’t used up all of the product or service

You’re legally entitled to a discount if the seller was aggressive and any of the following apply:

  • you got the product or started the service over 90 days ago
  • you used a service for a month or more, for example if you signed up to a TV service and used it for 40 days
  • you want to keep what you paid for, eg if a seller used aggressive selling to sell you double glazing and you’d rather keep it than get the work undone

What to say or write

“The person who sold me the item/service acted aggressively. I’m entitled to a full refund/discount under the Consumer Protection Regulations 2014.”

Keep a copy of any letter you send or make a note of the conversation and who you talked to.

Working out how much discount you’re entitled to

If you’re only eligible for a discount and the contract or item was £5,000 or less, the refund amount will depend on:

  • how aggressive the seller was or how unfairly they pressured you
  • how much impact the aggressive sale had on you
  • how recently it was

You’ll need to consider each of the 3 factors when deciding whether to argue that your case is more than minor, significant, serious or very serious. Where they amount to a minor inconvenience you’re not likely to get any discount. Cases that are more than minor should qualify you for a 25% refund, while significant, serious and very serious cases should qualify you for a 50%, 75% or 100% refund, respectively.

If the contract or item is worth more than £5,000 your refund will depend on the difference between the going market price (eg the 2nd hand value of an item) and what you paid.

You can also claim compensation

You may be able to claim compensation for any distress or inconvenience caused by being aggressively sold something you didn’t want to buy. You can also claim for reasonable extra expenses you had as a result of being aggressively sold something. Keep receipts for these as evidence for your claim.

It’s hard to put a figure on how much compensation you deserve. You’ll need to think of a reasonable amount - your local Citizens Advice may be able to help with this.

If the seller won’t refund your money

If the seller won’t refund your money, ask them if they’re a member of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme - it’s a way of solving disagreements without going to court. If they don’t respond or won’t use an ADR scheme, keep a record of the fact that you asked them (and the date).

If you can’t resolve the situation through an ADR scheme you’ll probably have to take them to court to get a refund. You should get legal advice before doing this. Contact your local Citizens Advice for help.

Report the seller to Trading Standards

It’s a good idea to report an aggressive seller to Trading Standards. This could stop them from taking advantage of other people through aggressive selling.

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