Buying services

I bought on or after 29 November 2022

When you buy from businesses based in Ireland or the EU you have strong consumer rights. This information covers your rights when you buy a service. For example, a gym membership, having your boiler serviced or household waste collection.

You can read more about your rights when buying digital services.

I bought on or before 28 November 2022

You have rights when you buy or use a service but every case is different and the solution to a problem will depend on the service.

Generally with any service, you have the right to expect that:

  • The service you ordered is provided with proper care and attention
  • The business providing it has the appropriate skills to do the job
  • Any materials they use in the work are sound and fit for their purpose
  • Any goods they supply to you as part of the service should be of acceptable quality too

Signing up to a service online

Under the Consumer Rights Directive, your rights when you sign up to a service online are as follows:

The right to clear information

There should be no hidden fees and charges when you go to sign up to a service online. Pre-ticked boxes are now banned across the EU. Where a retailer offers additional extras (e.g. car hire, accommodation services) during the booking process, consumers must actively opt in by ticking the box to select that item. Retailers must show clearly the total cost of the service, including any additional taxes or fees, before the order is placed.

The retailer must also give you the following information in a clear manner before you make the order:

  • The name and address of the supplier
  • The main characteristics of the service
  • How payment is to be made
  • How the service will be performed
  • That a right to cancel exists and how you can cancel
  • The minimum duration of the contract
  • How long it will be open to you to enter into the contract on these terms
  • The cost of the communication between the parties if it is above a basic rate
  • Any guarantees or after-sales services available
  • The conditions for terminating the contract if it is of unlimited duration or for longer than one year

This information should be given to you in a document that you can keep. It is up to the business to prove that you have received the information.

The right to change your mind

The “cooling off” or cancellation period is 14 days from the date the contract started. You do not have to give any reason for cancelling, but bear in mind you may have to pay for the cost of returning any items to the business. If you cancel the service, the business by law has to refund you within 14 days. The refund also includes any delivery costs that you may have had to pay.

Some services are not covered by this cooling-off period, for example, hotel bookings, car rental and travel tickets are specifically excluded. Services that have already begun, with the consumer’s agreement, before the end of the 14 working day period are also excluded.

The right to refund for delayed or non-delivery

From the day you enter into the contract, the provider has 30 days to perform the service that you have ordered unless you agree otherwise with them.

  • If the service is not carried out within the time agreed, you may contact the provider and ask for it at a later, convenient date. If it has still not been carried out during this extra period, you are then entitled to cancel the contract.
  • If you didn’t receive the service during the 30 days and this was essential, you are entitled to cancel the contract after the 30 days is up, particularly if you informed them that you needed the service by this date.
  • If the provider tells you that they can’t or won’t carry out the service, then you are entitled to cancel the contract.

Tips before you enter a contract online

Familiarise yourself with the business

  • It is important to know who you are buying the service from. Make sure you have the name and full contact details, including postal address, of the online provider.
  • Check online for reviews or any negative feedback before you purchase anything.

Read the terms and conditions

When you sign up to any contract there may be certain terms and conditions which apply. Examples of some common terms and conditions are a minimum contract time period (for example 12 months) and a fee if you want to end the contract early. When you sign up you agree to these terms and conditions so it is in your interest to read, understand and be happy with them.

  • Print and save the terms and conditions before ordering
  • Make screenshots during the purchase process in order to keep records of all steps that have been taken
  • Keep copies of your order confirmation, e-receipts, letters and e-mails
  • Make sure you use a secure website to enter credit card information – look for a closed padlock symbol in the browser window

Last updated on 1 December 2022