Refunds and cancelling a service

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A business does not have to give a refund if you simply change your mind about a service, unless they have a policy to offer a refund, replacement or credit note when this happens. However consumers do have rights and and responsibilities when cancelling a service or requesting a refund.

What if I received the service as a gift?

You have the same rights as a person who bought the service directly.

Who has to fix a problem with a service?

The person or business who sold you the service – the ‘supplier’ – guarantees the service.

This means they attempt to put the situation right when the service does not meet a consumer guarantee – they must provide a ‘remedy’. Common remedies are refunds and repairs.

For information about what they guarantee, see our what a business guarantees about their service page.

Am I entitled to a refund or other compensation?

Whether you get a refund or other ‘remedy’ depends on whether the problem is a:

Consumer guarantees apply to both.

When a service does not meet a consumer guarantee, you may also be able to claim for compensation for your costs caused by the problem. This is usually for financial costs but can include other costs, such as lost time or productivity. For more information, see claiming compensation for consequential loss.

‘No refund’ signs are unlawful

A supplier or manufacturer must not tell you that a consumer guarantee:

  • does not exist; 
  • may be excluded; or
  • may not have a particular effect.

This means ‘no refund’ and similar signs are unlawful, because they imply that you cannot get a refund under any circumstances – even when there is a major problem with the service.

Signs that state ‘No refunds will be given if you have simply changed your mind’ are acceptable.

When can’t I claim under consumer guarantees?

A supplier or manufacturer does not have to put a situation right when they did not meet consumer guarantees due to something:

  • someone else said or did, unless it was their agent or employee; or
  • beyond human control that happened after the goods or services were supplied to you.

However, they must always provide a service with due care and skill.


It takes a qualified painter three weeks to paint a house but the job has taken four weeks. The sole reason for the delay was the weather, which is outside the painter’s control. The consumer would not be entitled to a remedy.

What must I do to cancel a service?

A contract for services is cancelled when you tell the supplier that you intend to cancel it - verbally, in writing or, if this is not possible, by any other means.

You can cancel a contract for services at any time.

You cannot immediately cancel a service if the problem is minor or can be fixed. For more information, see common questions above.

Refunds for cancelled services

Cancelling a contract for services gives you the right to a refund.

The amount will depend on whether some or all of the services provided were unsatisfactory, or provided at all.


A hairdresser has cut and permed a consumer’s hair. The cut is good but the perm has ‘fallen out’ after a day. The consumer must pay for the cut but not for the perm, as another hairdresser will not need to cut her hair to fix the problem.

Can I keep goods that came with a cancelled service?

When you cancel a contract for services that includes goods, you must return the goods to the supplier.

You are entitled to a refund of any money or other type of payment that you have made for the goods.

If returning the goods involves significant cost, the supplier must collect the goods at their own expense.

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