Many consumers take advantage of popular discount campaigns, such as Black Friday, to buy useful products for themselves or Christmas presents for others. Sometimes, however, you may make an impulse or bad purchase that you regret. The European Consumer Centres in the Nordic countries remind consumers of the right of withdrawal that applies to online purchases in the EU.
If you change your mind about an online purchase:
1) You have 14 days to cancel your purchase throughout the EU
When you buy a product in an online store located in the EU, Norway or Iceland, you have a 14-day right of withdrawal in the case of most products. If you are unsure about the country of location, you can check the geographical address in the online store’s contact information. If you cannot find this information, but only an email address or online form, you should treat the online store with caution and keep in mind that it may be located in, say, China, regardless of the website’s language or the country code domain of its web address. The two-week right of withdrawal is calculated from the date on which you receive the product. The right of withdrawal does not apply to, for example, flights, made-to-measure products or goods that are delivered in sealed packaging which for health or hygiene reasons cannot be returned after the packaging has been opened.
2) You can examine the goods at home
When you purchase a product online, you can examine it at home in the same way as in a store. In most cases you can also return goods even after you have used them, although any depreciation in value will be deducted from your refund. If the goods cannot be resold after you have used them, you will have to pay for them in full, even if you return them. There are some exceptions: made-to-measure products, for example, cannot be cancelled. The right of withdrawal also does not apply to products delivered in a sealed package, which for health or hygiene reasons may not be returned after the package has been opened, and which have been opened. These include contact lenses and moisturising creams.
3) If the purchase is withdrawn, the party that pays for the return costs is liable for the goods
When you exercise your right to withdraw an order, the liability for the product is determined by whether you or the vendor pays for the return costs. If the vendor pays for the return costs and, hence, also selects the shipping carrier, it is liable for the goods as soon as you have handed them over to the carrier. If you are responsible for the return costs, you are liable for the goods until the online trader has received your shipment. If the goods are damaged or lost during transportation, you may not be able to get your money back. In such a case, you can file a claim with the shipping carrier. In either case, you should always keep the receipt that the carrier gives you when you leave a package for return delivery.
4) You must pay the delivery costs unless otherwise agreed
When you return a product, you must pay the return costs yourself, unless otherwise agreed in the order terms. Many online stores, however, offer free returns and a longer withdrawal period than 14 days, especially before Christmas. This is an advantage for shoppers who want to buy presents well before Christmas. You should always check whether the online store offers free returns and, when returning a product, follow the store’s instructions.
5) No more than 14 days to receive a refund
If you cancel your order, the vendor must refund you without delay and in any case within 14 days of receiving your notice of cancellation. The vendor has a right to withhold your refund until they have received the returned goods or until you have provided proof, such as a receipt, of having returned the goods. The vendor must reimburse you using the same method that you used to pay for the goods. You must not incur any costs from the refund. A refund may be given in a non-monetary form, such as in the form of a gift voucher, only with your consent.
Online shopping checklist. (Ecc.fi)
Tips for Christmas online shopping. European Consumer Centre Finland's Newsletter 4/2018.
European Consumer Centre Finland
Legal Counsel Kaisa Metsätähti, tel. +358 (0)29 553 6885