What is a deposit?
A deposit is a sum of money that you pay upfront as an intention to buy something.
You may be asked to pay a deposit for products and services, for example, when ordering something from a shop, getting home improvements or hiring equipment.
When you pay a deposit, you pay the balance of money owed on delivery of the item or completion of the service.
You and the seller agree the amount of the deposit and other terms – see below.
Terms and conditions
When you pay a deposit, you enter into a contract with the seller or supplier. The contract can be verbal or written. Both you and the seller are bound by the terms and conditions of the contract.
The terms and conditions must be clear and fair. Terms that can be unfair include:
- That deposits are non-refundable in all situations
- That if you cancel, you must pay all the seller’s expenses. The seller can only keep an amount that covers the actual losses from your cancellation. This could include costs already paid or loss of profit (for example, where you cancel at short notice)
- That the seller is allowed to keep the deposit if you cancel but you are not compensated if the seller cancels
What to check before paying
Before you pay a deposit, check:
- The deposit amount
- When you have to pay the balance
- If you pay in instalments, how much each instalment will be
- Details of the exact product or service you are buying
- Date the product will be delivered or the service will be completed
- Whether the deposit will be refunded in any situation (either fully or partially)
- Any non-refundable amount or cancellation charge, if you decide to cancel
Get confirmation of this information in writing or by email. Always get a receipt for the deposit you paid.
Can I get my deposit back?
You have the right to get your deposit back if the seller:
- Does not provide what was agreed
- Cannot supply the product or deliver the service you ordered
- Does not deliver the product or service on the agreed date and you cannot agree a new delivery date
- Does not deliver the product or service on the new delivery date
I changed my mind
If you decide to cancel something you paid a deposit for, the seller is usually not required to give your money back.
In some cases, the seller might allow cancellations if you change your mind, depending on the terms and conditions (see above).
If the seller goes out of business
If you pay a deposit and the seller goes out of business before your goods or service is delivered, it may be difficult for you to get your money back or to get the item or service.
Usually, the seller will owe money to several people so your claim is just one of many. There are rules for the priority to be given to debts when a business goes into liquidation or receivership. Generally, you will be low in the order of priority.
If you paid the deposit using a credit card or debit card, you can contact your bank or credit card provider to request a chargeback.
If the seller refuses to return your deposit
You have rights if the seller does not meet their obligations to you. If the seller breaches the terms of the contract and is refusing to refund your deposit agreed, you can:
You can contact the following organisations for advice and support:
- Dispute with an Irish-based trader: Contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) for information and advice
- Dispute with a trader based in another EU country: Contact the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland for advice about cross-border transactions
Find out more about consumer protection organisations.