When shopping online, the consumer is still protected by the standard consumer rights – a web trader is bound by the same obligations as the trader on the high street. Additionally, Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights provides for a set of rights for protecting consumers when buying online.
Right to clear information
Before concluding an online transaction the online seller should provide the following information:
- His full name and address of business;
- A description of the main characteristics of the goods or services;
- The price including any taxes or charges due;
- Delivery costs;
- The arrangements for payment, delivery or performance;
- The existence of the right of cancellation by the consumer;
- The cost of using the means of distance communication, where it is calculated at a rate higher than the basic rate;
- The period for which the offer or the price remains valid; and
- The minimum duration of the contract in the case of contracts for the supply of products or services to be performed recurrently.
Following an order, the supplier must execute the order within a maximum of 30 days from the day following that on which the consumer forwarded the order to the supplier. When the goods or services ordered are unavailable the supplier must immediately inform the consumer and must refund the consumer of any monies paid within 30 days of informing him.
Right to change your mind
For any distance contract the consumer shall have a period of at least fourteen (14) days in which to withdraw from the contract without penalty and without giving any reason.
Therefore unlike when shopping in the high street when for instance purchasing goods online, the consumer can decide to return the goods or withdraw from the service without giving reasons and without incurring any costs.
The period of the right of cancellation begins from the day of receipt of the goods or from the day of conclusion of the contract in case of services.
This right of cancellation is extended to twelve months where the supplier has failed to meet his obligations as regards information.
Where the consumer has exercised the right of withdrawal, the supplier is obliged to reimburse the sums paid by the consumer free of charge. The only charge that may be made to the consumer because of the exercise of his right of withdrawal is the direct cost of returning the goods, such as shipping costs. The reimbursement must be made to the consumer by the supplier as soon as possible and in any case not later than 14 days after the return of the goods or cancellation of the contract.
The right of withdrawal exists for almost all type of goods, however unless the parties have agreed otherwise, the consumer may not exercise the right of withdrawal in respect of contracts:
- for the provision of services if the service has already begun, with the consumer’s agreement, before the end of the seven working day period;
- for the supply of goods or services the price of which is dependent on fluctuations in the financial market which cannot be controlled by the supplier;
- for the supply of goods made to the consumer’s specifications or clearly personalised or which, by reason of their nature, cannot be returned or are liable to deteriorate or expire rapidly;
- for the supply of audio or video recordings or computer software which were unsealed by the consumer;
- for the supply of newspapers, periodicals and magazines;
- for gaming and lottery services.
When buying online it is always advisable to buy from a professional trader rather than from a private individual. Buying from a private individual will reduce your rights considerably, since in such circumstances both the seller and the buyer will be acting in a private capacity and therefore the transaction will not be regulated by consumer legislation.
A ‘consumer transaction’ is considered to be transaction between a private individual buying goods or services for personal use from a seller acting