BAR T&Cs 2019:
When does and doesn’t a cooling-off period apply?
The BAR Compliance Team provides further clarification on the “cooling-off” period required by law for
certain transactions, as well as a heads-up that Members have less than six months to incorporate the
BAR’s latest T&Cs into their own.
On 30 September 2019, the BAR’s Membership Services Team sent out an email to all
Members titled ‘updated Model Terms & Conditions and Quotation & Acceptance form
(October 2019) now available.’ This email was accompanied by guidance notes to
explain the reasons behind the changes. It also stated that, in strict accordance with
the BAR Rules, Members must offer T&Cs which are no less favourable than the BAR’s
Model T&Cs. Members have (up to) 12 months from the date of release to incorporate
any new T&Cs issued by the BAR; however, Members are encouraged to update their
T&Cs as soon as possible.
The Compliance Team is kindly reminding Members that we are now more than
halfway through the period during which Members must action the above requirements.
The background behind the cooling-off period
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges)
Regulations 2013 came into force on 13 June 2014. The law applies to all selling
activities (products and services) and requires you, the trader, to make customers aware
of the possibility of a cooling-off period applying to their individual contract with you.
This law is nothing new and has been in place since this time. All the BAR has done
since late last year is remind its Members of their obligation under this existing UK law.
When doesn’t a cooling-off period apply?
Scenario: Your surveyor visits a customer’s premises to complete a removal
survey. The surveyor discusses and agrees a service specification, completes the
volume and service requirement survey, spends a little time “selling” the service to
the customer (note: not indicating any pricing at this stage) and pointing out the
benefits of using a BAR Member firm. The surveyor explains that a quotation will
be sent out with some accompanying literature and marketing material. They
discuss how the customer may wish to confirm availability with the office prior to
booking, and how they would then sign and return an acceptance form which
becomes a contract between both parties to complete the service.
Most BAR Members will recognise this scenario as this is how removers have conducted
their business for many years. In this scenario, so long as you have only agreed a
specification on which to base your quotation and you have not discussed pricing in any
way at the customer’s premises, a cooling-off period would not normally apply. You must
ensure that the customer has not been pressurised in any way to accept your service so
that you can both freely enter into a contract to complete the removal.
When is a customer entitled to a cooling-off period?
Scenarios in which a cooling-off period would normally apply include:
• Where a surveyor discusses pricing in the customer’s house at the time of the survey,
therefore in effect striking the contract in the customer’s house; and
• Where a BAR Member firm has conducted a “virtual” survey of a property, or where
it has issued a quotation based on a customer-supplied list of effects and required
service specification (either via email or over the phone).
For more information, contact the BAR Compliance Team at email@example.com or on 01923 699480.
14 Removals & Storage April 2020
When does a customer forgo their right to a cooling-off
Scenario: Where a cooling-off period would normally apply but the customer
has specifically requested for the services to be provided within the 14-day cooling-off
If a customer requests, at the point a contract is struck, that they require the
removal service to occur within 14 days of that date of contract, they themselves
forego their right to cancel within the 14 days.
The BAR advises that, for the customer to have properly requested for the removal
to take place within the 14 days and therefore forego their cooling-off period, the
following should appear on your quotation acceptance form:
I confirm that I want my removals date to be within 14 days
of this contract, and understand that the 14-day cooling-off
period will not apply in my case, as advised in my quotation.
When should a BAR Member make a client aware of their
potential right to a cooling-off period?
In order to protect yourself in the fullest possible way from a potential legal challenge
by a customer that they have not been fully informed of their rights to this 2013 Act of
Parliament, the BAR would suggest that:
• Surveyors and all sales staff (field- and office-based) receive training to ensure they
correctly state a customer’s potential rights under the 2013 Act; and
• BAR Member firms draw the customer’s attention to the potential for a cooling-off
period applying within:
- Their quotation and acceptance paperwork;
- Amended T&Cs where reference to a cooling-off period is stated (always ensuring
the T&Cs must be no less favourable than the BAR’s Model T&Cs); or
- An accompanying letter and/or handout.
In any case, the Member must be able to prove, if a situation led to a legal challenge,
that the customer had been given appropriate advice of their rights under the 2013 Act.
Across 2020, BAR inspectors will be checking
that Members have a tick box on their
acceptance form and that they are drawing
customers’ attentions to their potential right to
a cooling-off period. Members therefore need
to address this as soon as possible, assuming
you have not done so already.