Distance Sales FAQs

If you’re looking to buy a car online or over the phone, without ever visiting the showroom to order, pay for, and take delivery of the vehicle, your consumer rights will differ from those in a traditional on-site purchase. The following page outlines some of the most commonly asked questions about buying a car in this way and some of the implications that you should be aware of, such as legislation relating to distance sales.


First of all, what is a distance sale?


Distance sales FAQs


A distance sale is defined as when a customer buys a product and the contract is not formed at the premises of the retailer. An example of this is when an order is placed and paid for online, or by telephone, and the product is delivered to the customer’s home without any face-to-face contact with the retailer.


Which legislation covers this type of transaction?


The UK legislation that covers distance selling, which came into force in June 2014, is called the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, sometimes referred to as the ‘Distance Selling Regulations’.


Does the Motor Ombudsman’s Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales cover complaints regarding a distance sale?


Yes, distance sales are covered under provision 2.12 in the Vehicle Sales Code. It states the following:

“Where a vehicle sale is concluded at a distance, the accredited business will make clear your right to cancel within 14 days.”


If a dispute around a distance sale has not been resolved with a retailer that is accredited to The Motor Ombudsman, and the business has been given up to eight weeks to provide a formal response, then get in touch with us and we’ll see what we can do to help.



When buying a car online or over the phone, what are my rights if I change my mind and no longer want to buy the car? 


  • If you’ve placed a deposit on a vehicle at a distance, either online or over the phone, you are entitled to cancel your order within 14 days and receive a full refund of your deposit, regardless of your reasons or any money the retailer has spent.
  • Bear in mind though, that if you placed a deposit at the retailer’s premises, you may not be able to receive a full refund, and you’ll need to check the terms and conditions that you signed.
  • If you’ve paid for the car in full, and taken delivery of it, you have 14 days to change your mind from when you receive the vehicle – again, you don’t have to give a reason for cancelling and the retailer must give you a full refund.
  • If the retailer doesn’t give you information about your rights under a distance sale at the time of delivery, including your right to cancel the purchase within 14 days, then you’ll have up to 12 months to cancel your order and receive a refund.
  • REMEMBER: If you visit the retailer’s premises at any time during the sales process, so for example, when paying your deposit or signing your paperwork, this no longer counts as a distance sale. Therefore, you won’t have a cancellation period and your usual consumer rights will apply.

I have bought a car from a business using a ‘click-and-collect’ service. Is this classed as a distance sale, and what are my rights?


The answer is generally no – a ‘click-and-collect’ style purchase is not usually a distance sale. This is because whilst you might have placed the order online and paid a deposit, you will still sign the contract and any finance agreements, or pay the balance on site, the same as with a ‘bricks and mortar’ purchase. As you have still had contact with the seller on their premises during the process of finalising your purchase, the additional right to cancel your purchase within 14 days given by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 will not apply. You will still have your statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which gives you the right to reject the car for a full refund within the first 30 days after purchase. But, you can only do this if you can prove that the car is not of satisfactory quality, not fit for purpose or not as described – you’re not allowed to return the vehicle simply because you have changed your mind. After those 30 days, you have to give the business one opportunity to repair or replace your vehicle before you can ask for a refund, and any refund you receive will include a deduction for the use you have had of the car.


However, if you have ordered the car, signed all of the relevant documentation and paid for it completely at a distance, normally online, this will count as a distance sale even if you then go and collect the vehicle from the showroom. Retailers have to give you certain information if you are buying at a distance, including information about your cancellation rights, so if you are not sure which legislation applies to your purchase, either check with the seller or read through your terms and conditions.


Example scenarios – Is it a distance sale?



Scenario 1: Deposit paid by phone and paperwork completed at the car retailer


Mr A sees a car he likes online. He calls the business to pay the deposit, and then visits the retailer to complete the forms required to purchase the vehicle.


Does this constitute a distance sale?


The answer in this scenario is NO, because Mr A visited the premises during the purchase to complete the contractual paperwork to buy the car.


Scenario 2: Payment in full over the phone and paperwork completed by e-mail and home delivery


Ms B calls the business to enquire about a certain make and model of car, which they have in stock. She pays the full price of the car over the phone, and the contractual paperwork is then e-mailed to her. Mrs B then takes delivery of the vehicle at her home address.


Does this constitute a distance sale?


The answer in this example is YES, because Ms B never visited the seller’s physical premises during the purchase or collection of the vehicle, and the completion of all paperwork was done by e-mail.


Scenario 3: Visit to vehicle retailer, electronic payment and car collected at the showroom


Mr C walks into the vehicle retailer and sees the car that he would like to buy. He takes a few days to think things through, and then e-mails the business to say that he would like to proceed with the purchase. The money is transferred electronically to the business by Mr C to buy the car, and he then visits the showroom to sign the contractual paperwork and to collect the vehicle.


Does this constitute a distance sale?


The answer in this case is NO, because Mr C visited the business to complete the contract and to effectively drive the vehicle off the forecourt.


Scenario 4: Deposit paid by phone and completion of all purchase and finance contracts online and collection of the car at the showroom


Ms D visits the website of a car retailer, uses the configurator on their website to ‘build’ her new car and places the order. The business then sends her the contractual paperwork and finance agreement to complete by e-mail, which she fills in and sends back, also by e-mail. She then calls the retailer in order to pay the deposit. However, she doesn’t wish to pay the cost for the car to be delivered to her home and goes to the showroom for the handover of the vehicle.


Does this constitute a distance sale?


The answer in this scenario is YES, because Ms D ordered and completed the contractual information on the internet and paid over the phone. Her visit to the retailer came after she had concluded her contract with them. However, if Ms D had signed any of the sales documentation on the retailer’s premises, before collecting the car, this would no longer be a distance sale and she would not benefit from any additional rights.