13 June 2014
On 13 June 2014, the Consumer Rights Directive enters into force in all EU member states. Finnish Consumers will notice the change more concretely when making purchases online. The familiar 14 day period of return will remain, but the practices for cancellation and return of orders will change.
Especially when ordering from online shops outside of Finland, it is now even more important to read the terms and conditions of a sales agreement, in order to ensure the country of origin and who is responsible for covering the cost of returning a purchase.
Cancel orders in writing, by email etc.
From the perspective of Finnish consumers, changes to the Consumer Protection Act apply especially to online purchases. The 14 day return policy we are accustomed to will remain in force, but we can no longer cancel an order by not retrieving it from a pick-up point or sending it back to the seller. As of 13 June 2014, the consumer must notify the company in writing that he/she wishes to cancel an order, and the return the item immediately to the seller, or at latest 14 days after the notice of cancellation has been sent.
Finnish consumers, who have made purchases from European online shops outside of Finland, will not notice any great changes to the provisions on cancellation of orders. The objective is to standardise provisions in EU countries, which is expected to increase consumer trust in cross-border sales, as well as the desire of companies to offer their products to consumers outside of their own country.
Right of cancellation does not apply to all online shopping
The right of cancellation does not apply to the following online purchases: single issues of magazines and newspapers, car rental services, booking flights and hotel, food and flower orders or products made to the consumer’s specifications, for example suits tailored to the customer's measurements or custom-made furniture. The legislator has not limited the right of companies in the aforementioned group to grant the right of cancellation, if the company so wishes.
Save return receipt, check charges related to returns
Especially in cases of disputes, the consumer still has the obligation of proving that the item has been returned to the selling company. For this reason, it is advisable to keep the return receipt. Without a return receipt, there is no way to even begin resolving a dispute related to the return of a purchase.
One significant change that will enter into force on 13 June will be that the consumer will be required by law to cover the costs of returning a product. However, it is likely that for customer service reasons, many Finnish online shops will continue to offer free-of-charge return. However, when making purchases at non-Finnish online shops, the consumer should remember that the prevalent practice is for consumers to cover the cost of return.
Always read terms and conditions, especially when ordering from abroad
The terms and conditions of online sales agreements are often mind-numbingly dull to read. They can be in a language other than your mother tongue, and even when they are, they can span over several pages, partially without separate headings for sections and can be contradictory or open to interpretation. If you do not feel up to reading all the terms and conditions, or these do not give a clear picture of the service offered, we recommend you seek out a different vendor or service provider. However, it is good to keep in mind that terms and conditions define the conditions for the sale and especially what actions will be taken, if either party does not abide by the obligations they have committed to.
Directive on Consumer Rights (2011/83/EC)