Goods and Services
- Returning unwanted goods
- Unfair commercial practices
- Shopping online
- Guarantees: repairs, replacements, refunds
14 days to withdraw when purchasing goods
In the EU (the 28 EU member states & Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), for contracts concluded as of 13 June 2014, you have the right to withdraw from your online purchase as well as from purchases made elsewhere than in shops (e.g. from a salesman on your doorstep; by phone or mail order) within 14 days.
This “cooling off” period expires 14 days after the day you received your goods. You can choose to withdraw from your order for any reason within this timeframe – even if you simply changed your mind.
To exercise your right of withdrawal, you must unequivocally inform the trader of your decision to withdraw from the purchase. You can do this, for example, by adding a written statement to the goods that you are returning by post, or by sending a fax or e-mail. It is not enough to just send the goods back. The trader must provide you with a model withdrawal form, which you can use to inform him/her of your withdrawal but you don’t have to use it.
The trader must give you a refund within 14 days from receipt of your withdrawal notification, but can delay refunding you if he/she has not received the goods back or evidence that you have sent them back. This refund must include any shipping charges you paid when you made your purchase. However, the trader may charge you additional delivery costs if you specifically requested non-standard (express) delivery. You will have to pay the costs of returning the goods to the trader.
Please note that you may not use goods that you have received before deciding to withdraw from the purchase. The right to withdraw exists to allow you to examine the product in the same way as you would in a shop, not to give you 14 days free use.
Be aware also that more specific rules apply to digital content (e.g. downloading or streaming music or video).
Certain products excluded
The 14-day “cooling off” period does not apply, among others, to:
- plane and train tickets as well as concert tickets and hotel bookings for specific dates
- food and drink delivered to you by regular delivery (such as delivery by a milkman).
- goods made to order or clearly personalised (e.g. a tailor-made suit)
- sealed data carriers, such as DVDs, which you have unsealed upon receipt.
Private sales also excluded
If you are purchasing goods from a private individual rather than a company, the transaction is not covered by the same consumer legislation. You do not have the legal right to change your mind within 14 days of your order.
When you buy goods and services anywhere in the EU (the 28 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) whether from a website, local shop or seller outside your home country – EU law protects you against unfair commercial practices.
When promoting, selling or supplying products, companies must give you enough accurate information to enable you to make an informed buying decision. If not, their actions may be considered unfair.
Misleading and aggressive practices
You are protected against 2 main categories of unfair commercial practices:
- misleading practices, either through action (giving false information) or omission (leaving out important information)
- aggressive practices that aim to bully you into buying.
Common black-listed practices:
- Bait advertising
- Phony ‘free’ offers
- Manipulation of children
- False claims about cures
- Hidden advertisements in media (advertorials)
- Pyramid schemes
- False offers of prizes, gifts
- Phony ‘special’ advantages
- False use of limited offers
Persistent unwanted offers
If you buy a product or service online after 13 June 2014 you benefit from more favourable consumer protection rules, such us:
- essential information before concluding the contract,
- no unjustified surcharges for payment by credit cards (or other means),
- delivery within the agreed time,
- returning unwanted goods,
- paying only for things that you have expressly agreed to.
What you should know before buying
Wherever you buy a product or service in the EU, whether in a shop or online, the trader must provide you with certain clear, correct and understandable key information about the product or service before you make the purchase.
Before you enter into a contract with an online trader or service provider, the precise detailed information must be provided about the main characteristics of the product or service, the name and physical address of the trader, the right of withdrawal etc.
Contracts must be written in plain and understandable language and cannot contain unfair contract terms.
For online purchases, you must also be clearly informed of the total price including delivery and other related costs, and actively acknowledge, e.g. by pressing a button or similar, that you are aware of all of these, and that placing an order implies an obligation to pay.
Be aware that, just as for orders placed in shops, online orders should also be delivered within 30 days , unless you agreed on a different delivery date with the trader.
Additional ”hidden” costs – Ban on pre-ticked boxes
When you purchase something from a trader you must always be given the possibility to agree explicitly to any additional ”hidden” costs, such as travel insurance when you book a flight. It is illegal for traders to infer your agreement by using “pre-ticked” boxes during the purchase process.
Returning unwanted goods
When you buy goods or services by post, telephone, fax or on the internet from a professional trader based in the EU, you have the right to return unwanted goods within 14 days from receiving the goods.
Specific information requirements apply when you buy digital content online, e.g. when downloading or streaming music or video. Before you make the purchase, you must also be informed how the content operates with relevant hardware/software (interoperability) and about its functionality, including whether any geographical restrictions apply to the use of the content and if private copies are allowed.
You also enjoy the right of withdrawal within 14 days from concluding the contract for online digital content. However, once you start downloading or streaming the content you may no longer withdraw from the purchase, provided that the trader has complied with his obligations.
Free of charge, two-year guarantee (legal guarantee)
Whether you bought the goods in a shop or online, under EU rules you always have the right to a minimum two-year guarantee period at no cost.
This 2-year guarantee is only your minimum right and national rules in your country may give you extra protection. Remember that any deviation from EU rules must always be to the consumer’s benefit.
If an item you bought anywhere in the EU (the 28 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norwa) turns out to be faulty or does not look or work as advertised, the seller must repair or replace it free of charge or give you a full refund or reduction in price. In some EU countries you will be offered the choice between all four remedies from the outset. Otherwise you will be able to ask for a full or partial refund only when it is not possible or convenient to repair or replace the item.
The two-year guarantee period starts as soon as you receive your goods. In some EU countries you must inform the seller of the fault within two months of discovering it otherwise you may lose your right to the guarantee.
Within six months from receipt of the goods, you just need to show the trader that they are faulty or not as advertised. But, after six months in most EU countries you also need to prove yourself that the defect already existed on receipt of the goods, for example, by showing that the defect is due to the poor quality of materials used.
The trader is always liable for remedying the defect and in some EU countries you also have the right to request a remedy from the producer.
Additional guarantees (commercial guarantee)
Shops or producers will often offer you an additional commercial guarantee (also referred to as a warranty), either included in the product price or at an extra cost. This can give you better protection but can never replace or reduce the minimum two-year guarantee, which you always have.
Similarly, if a shop sells you a new product more cheaply on a ‘no guarantee’ basis, this only means that you don’t have any additional protection. You always have the right to a two-year guarantee free of charge if the product turns out to be faulty or not as advertised.
Second–hand goods that you buy from a trader are also covered by the minimum two-year guarantee. However, goods bought from private individuals on a non-professional basis are not covered.
In some EU countries, in the case of second-hand goods, the buyer and seller can agree to a guarantee period of less than two years, but no shorter than one year. This should be made clear to you at the time of purchase
- Summary of ECC-Net Report about commercial warranties (2015)
- ECC-Net E-commerce Report 2014
● Part 1: Guide for Traders
● Part 2: Guide for Consumers
- ECC-Net Report about fraud in cross-border e-commerce (2013)