Bespoke, made-to-measure blinds can be a very big purchase for a lot of people, so it’s important that people are able to find the right blinds for them, and are able to take a look at all the options available. This may mean that a customer might place an order with one company and then find a better solution at another, requiring them to cancel the first order. This was the case with a recent customer of ours, but they had some difficulty cancelling the order with the other company.
This customer had already enquired with and placed an order with a well-known and nationwide blind company before they had seen us. After seeing our blinds, they decided they wanted to cancel that order so they could go with us instead. Normally this would not be a problem; under the Distance Selling Regulations a minimum 14-day “cooling off” period is standard when buying a product in your own home, and the customer was well within that time limit.
The problem arose when it turned out the other company now only gives a 2-day period after the contract is signed to cancel the order. This meant that even though they had not even had a survey for the blinds, they were trapped in the contract – or so they were told several times by the other company.
The 14-day cooling off period legislation is designed to protect customers. It ensures they have time to look at alternative options and examine any small print they might have missed before signing a contract. By reducing that period to only two calendar days, there’s very little someone can do if they need to cancel for any reason. Even though the blinds are a made-to-measure product, production of the blinds does not start until after the survey – which in most cases will fall outside of the 14-day cooling off period – so there should be no reason to prevent anyone from cancelling.
Our sales person was able to give the customer advice on what their rights were under this legislation, sending information from the Citizens Advice service about the 14-day cooling off period. It was only after contacting the company numerous times, stating the 14-day cooling off period legislation, that the other company eventually agreed to cancel the order and refund their deposit.
How are we different?
When you place an order with us you are free to cancel it without penalty any time between when it was placed and the end of your survey. This is alongside the standard 14 days cooling off period, and in many cases it means you a much longer period wherein you can cancel an order. It’s only after the survey is complete and the paperwork is signed that cancellation of an order will incur some cost, as we will have started production of the blinds by then. Our customers can also take as much time as they need before signing anything to look over the written contract and quotation and investigate other options.
How can you prevent this from happening to you?
The most important thing to know is what your rights as a customer actually are. Taking a look through the Citizens Advice guide for building or decorating work will give you a good idea of what you can and cannot do. Secondly, make sure that you discuss the cancellation policy with the sales person during the quotation visit, and ask them specifically how long you have to cancel the order once it’s placed.
It’s also important to remember that in most cases you don’t need to sign a contract on the same day as the quotation. It’s always worth taking the time to look through any contract if you’re unsure, and sign it on a later date after the quotation visit.