Purchases in Internet

E-commerce purchases

While shopping via Internet within the whole European Union (and additionally in Norway and Island), you can count on at least minimum protection that derives from a respective European Union directive.

Purchasing via Internet becomes more and more common. It is simple and convenient and it delivers a range of goods and services into your home and in your hands. Before making a purchase, it would be useful to find out your rights and what you should know about the trader!

EU online shoppers enjoy a range of rights under EU consumer legislation, including a cooling-off period which gives you the freedom to change your mind after you have made a purchase. These rules don’t just apply to online shopping but also cover other distance purchases, such as those placed by phone or mail order.

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.

EU online sellers must provide you with detailed information. The 8 key information requirements e-trader needs to provide: 

  • The main characteristics of the goods or services offered
  • Trader’s identity
  • The total price, including all of the applicable taxes, delivery and postal charges.
  • All of the arrangements for payment, delivery, performance
  • Right of withdrawal
  • Complaint handling policy
  • The existence of a legal guarantee of conformity for goods, the existence and the conditions of after-sales services and commercial guarantees
  • The duration of the contract
  • If applicable:
    – the functionality, including applicable technical protection measures, of digital content, if any.
    – the interoperability of digital content with hardware and software

How to act in case of problems?

Your purchase should be delivered within 30 days unless you agree otherwise with the seller.

When buying something via a communication device, in addition to the right of withdrawal of the purchase within 14 days, the consumer has the right to complain to the trader, if the goods do not meet the contract conditions or are not according to the samples shown, or if they have defects. Thus, if the goods show some defects, the consumer’s rights are the same, regardless if the purchase was made in a common store or in Internet-shop and the complaint can be submitted at least within 2 years from receiving the goods. 

When a problem occurs between consumer and trader, consumer must immediately contact the trader to reach to the amicable solution. Consumer should submit the complaint in writing (e.g e-mail) with the copy of the document certifying the performance of a purchase.

How to submit a complaint?

If the trader refuses to respond to your complaint or gives you an unacceptable answer, you can contact the ECC-centre in you home country to learn about your consumer rights or to submit a complaint. Our aim of the complaint handling procedure is to achieve a compromise solution by negotiating in disputes between the consumer and the trader.