A consumer’s rights in this situation are mainly determined by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. These Regulations apply to contracts for sales conducted on the trader’s business premises, off the trader’s premises (e.g. at the consumer’s home) and at a distance (e.g. online).
All types of transactions are subject to the requirement by the trader to issue the consumer with specific pre-contractual information, as long as it is not a contract entered off the trader’s premises for a value of less than £42. If this information is not provided then the consumer would not be bound by the contract and it can also be a fineable offence for the trader. Details of the required information can be found here:
· Contracts entered off the trader’s premises or at a distance - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/3134/schedule/2/made
In terms of cancellation rights, these only apply to off-premises and distance contracts, subject to some limited exceptions (such as personalised goods). The statutory cancellation periods are as follows:
· Services – 14 days after the day the contract was entered into
The above cancellation periods may be extended by up to 12 months if the trader has failed to issue the consumer with notice of their right to cancel. Once that information has been provided within the initial 12 month period, the cancellation rights of 14 days start to run from the date after the consumer receives that information.
So as the services were agreed at your house, i.e. off the trader’s premises, you would have an automatic cancellation right within the initial 14 days.
If you wish to get a template cancellation form you can refer directly to an example given in the Regulations: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/3134/schedule/3/made (scroll down to the bottom where it says B. Model Cancellation Form)
If they refuse to return your deposit, then whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:
1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.
2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.
3. Before you consider starting legal action you may wish to consider sending a formal statutory demand. This is a legal request which asks the debtor to pay the outstanding debt within 21 days and failure to do so will allow you to bankrupt the debtor (if they are an individual ) or wind up the company (if they are a business). For the relevant forms to serve a statutory demand see here: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-demands/forms-to-issue-a-statutory-demand
4. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.
Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.