Nowadays, many choose to buy from the comfort of their own home. Online shopping makes it easier to compare offers and find the best one for your needs.
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.
Note: Make sure to know your rights before buying online and that the business is based in the European Union. The ECC will only be able to help you if the trader is based in the EU, Iceland and Norway.
Before the conclusion of an online transaction, the seller should provide you with the following accurate information:
- The identity of the seller and address of business
- The Content of the order including a description of the main characteristics of the goods or services i.e. properties of the product or service, the total price, the duration of the contract and termination conditions and delivery conditions;
- The price including any taxes or charges due, delivery costs and the payment method;
- 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;
- The minimum duration of the contract in the case of contracts for the supply of products or services to be performed recurrently.
If the seller has not provided full and complete information about your purchase, you have the right to terminate the purchase contract. You may also cancel your purchase if
- the seller provided you with incomplete or incorrect information regarding the product or service;
- the seller was aware that certain information would be essential for closing the purchase contract;
- you would not have concluded the purchase contract if you had the full and complete information at the time.
Following the confirmation of the order, the trader must send you an order confirmation with all the details above mentioned again. Moreover, the supplier must execute the order within a maximum of 30 days from the day following that 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 money paid within 30 days of informing him.
If any distance contract is executed, the consumer is entitled to fourteen (14) days cooling off period in which to withdraw from the contract without incurring any penalty and without giving any reason.
The right of withdrawal as established by the Distance Selling Directive applies for purchases made:
- On the internet
- By mail order
- Door to door selling
- In a shop following an invitation from the retailer to visit the shop on the spot
The period for 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. The right of cancellation is extended to twelve months where the supplier has failed to meet his obligations regarding the supply of information. Furthermore, the trader shall provide you with guidelines to make use of the cooling-off period, who will pay for returning the product, and a template form for withdrawal.
If the consumer decides to exercise his right of withdrawal, the supplier is obliged to reimburse the sum paid by the consumer free of charge. The only charge that may be made to the consumer because of the withdrawal, is the direct cost of retuning the goods, such as shipping costs. The reimbursement should be made to the consumer by the supplier as soon as possible and in ay case not later than 14 days after the return of the goods or cancellation of the contract.
The right of withdrawal exists for almost every 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 7-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 newspaper, periodicals and magazines;
- For gaming and lottery services.
The delivery of the item bought must be affected according to the contract of sale which normally tends to be thirty (30) days. Where the terms of the agreement are not adhered to you can communicate a new reasonable time for delivery via email or terminate the contract and requesting a full refund from the trader.
The courier cannot deliver your item to a neighbour unless express permission is given in advance. If you cannot be home during the delivery hours then you may request the courier to deliver the item to a pickup point, where collection can be made at your leisure.
Where you receive the wrong item, you are entitled to request a replacement as per the conformity guarantees. In such a situation, the seller has to pay the costs involved including the return shipping for faulty items. Where stock is not available for the replacement to be made you may choose to cancel the order and request a refund for the purchase and delivery costs.
The trader may decide not to offer delivery services for a particular country. It means that you will need to arrange for the delivery of the item purchased. If you are allowed to buy, and you are given the possibility to arrange for the delivery to the item purchased yourself, the trader would not be acting illegally. It is important to note that the trader is no longer responsible for the package once the item reaches the indicated address. The responsibility will pass onto the courier to deliver the item to the destination.
The seller is responsible for all damages that may occur during the delivery procedure as long as you do not accept the delivery of damaged goods. When accepting the parcel, you are accepting the present condition at the moment of delivery. You may want to avoid this by reserving your right to have the courier wait until you check the condition of the parcel. If you find that the parcel is damaged, refuse delivery and if you accept, accept provisionally and note all your comments on the delivery note. You should take photographs of the damaged packaging and contact the seller in writing in order to request a refund or a credit note.
With the European Geo-blocking regulation, online store in EU Member States cannot refuse your order based on your nationality, place of residence or place of establishment. However, the shops are not obligated to offer delivery of the item and therefore, you may have to organise the delivery of the item bought or pick it up yourself.
The areas that do not fall within the scope of the above rules are:
- Financial services;
- Passenger transportation services;
- Package travel;
- Real estate;
- Gambling Activities
- Social services;
Note: If you buy products or services in the above areas you will not be protected by the Distance Selling Act.
Keep in mind
When buying online it is always advisable to buy from a professional trader rather than from a private individual. Buying from private individuals will considerably reduce your rights, 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 a transaction between a private individual buying goods or services for personal use from an acting seller.