Price information for services

Before you enter into a contract for a service to be carried out, businesses are required by law to give you information about the price of the service. This is to allow you to decide whether you want to buy the service and/or to compare prices for other similar services. Under consumer law, you must be given the total price of the service including taxes (for example, VAT). If it is not possible to calculate the price in advance, you must be given information on how the price will be calculated, for example, cost per hour/per day for the service.

This applies to services agreed in a shop, online, over the phone or during a visit to your home.

The business must give you price information for the service in a way that is relevant to the method of sale. So if you are agreeing to a service online, you must be given the price information for that service on the business’s website before you complete the transaction. Get more information on buying online.

Did you know?
  • When you agree to enter into a service with a business over the phone, for example a broadband service, they must give you the price information for that service during the phone call – before you sign up or pay for the service.
  • Laws on pricing information apply to most services offered to consumers, but there are some services where this law does not apply, for example doctors, dentists and other healthcare providers. If you have a price information issue in relation to healthcare professionals, you can contact the relevant professional body such as the Medical Council for doctors and the Dental Council for dentists.

Should the price of goods and services include VAT?

When a shop tells you the price for a service either verbally or in writing, it must include VAT. If you are given a quote for a service or if you see prices advertised for a service, the price should include VAT.

Under consumer law, a shop should give prices for goods and services that include any applicable VAT charges. However, for services like your phone and electricity bills, the VAT can legally be shown separately, as long as the total amount is clear.

Shops and businesses that sell goods to commercial customers, for example marked as ‘trade only’, are allowed to show prices that exclude VAT.

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