Q&A - Mother was pressured by salesman into purchasing a stair lift

Q:  My mother made an enquiry about stair lifts that were advertised in a magazine. She does not need one but thought she would enquire for the future. A salesman later turned up on her doorstep, talked his way into the house to check the suitability of her staircase for installing a lift, and the next thing was she had signed an order form.

The problem is that apart from not even needing a stair lift at the moment she also cannot afford one. I think she was pressured into signing the order, but unfortunately no-one was with her at the time to prove it. Can she get out of the purchase bearing in mind she made the enquiry?

A:   As with all issues arising out of contractual matters it is advisable to make an appointment with a solicitor who can check the paperwork. There is however a cooling off period applicable to all consumer contracts which are concluded away from business premises. The Cancellation of Contracts Made in a Consumers Home or Place of Work Etc. Regulations 2008, provide a consumer with a right to cancel a contract for goods and services made during a visit by a trader (whether unsolicited or solicited) to the consumer's home, place of work, the home of another person or on an excursion organised by the trader away from his business premises.

This right to cancel can be exercised at any time during a cooling off period of seven days from receipt of notice of the right to cancel from the trader. These regulations are designed to provide greater protection for consumers and ensure that they are less at risk from disreputable traders who previously were able to exploit the different treatment of solicited and unsolicited visits under earlier regulations. Notice of cancellation must be provided by the consumer in writing within the seven day cooling off period.