When you shop online you have the right to a “cooling-off” period of 14 working days where you can withdraw from the contract and return your purchases to the seller. You do not have to give any reason but bear in mind you may have to pay for the cost of returning the goods. Please note however that some purchases are not covered by the cooling-off period – for instance, hotel bookings, car rental, travel tickets and other leisure services are specifically excluded from this provision. Other exceptions include:
- Goods which are made to your specifications or which are clearly personalised
- Audio or video recordings or computer software which has been unsealed by the consumer e.g. DVDs, software installation CDs which have the seal removed
- Services that have already begun, with the consumer’s agreement, before the end of the 14-working day period
- Goods which are liable to deteriorate or expire rapidly e.g. perishable goods
- Gaming and lottery services
- Goods or services the price of which is dependent on fluctuations in the financial market which cannot be controlled by the supplier
Where a consumer exercises their right of withdrawal, the trader is obliged to refund them the costs of the purchase, including the costs of delivery, within 14 days. Consumer must not incur any costs other than for sending back the good or for a diminished value in case of mishandling the product.
The consumer can inspect and test the goods to an extent which is necessary to establish the nature, characteristics and the functioning of the acquired goods. If the consumer handled or used the goods to an extent that is more than necessary, he does not lose his right of withdrawal, but will have to compensate the trader for any diminished value of the goods.
The reimbursement can however be withheld until either:
- the trader receives the goods; or
- the trader receives proof that the goods have been sent back, whichever is the earliest.
The right of withdrawal is fully harmonised in the EU. This means that the same rules apply in all Member States in this regard.