Shopping online on the EU-wide market can offer savings and greater choice. EU online shoppers enjoy a set of consumer rights under EU distance selling rules, including cooling-off periods which mean the freedom to change your mind. European Consumer Centres can advise you on your online purchases from abroad or help with any problems.
What rights under EU distance selling rules?
EU distance selling rules cover not only online shopping but also other purchases outside a shop, e.g. by phone or mail order.
Your main EU rights as an online shopper include:
- The right to change your mind
- Thanks to 'cooling-off periods', you can cancel your order for any reason within at least 7 days from receiving the order (more in some countries) and send it back.
- The seller must give you a refund within 30 days. You may have to pay the cost of sending goods back to the seller, though.
- [!] Some purchases are not covered by the cooling-off periods, for example hotel bookings, car rental and travel tickets.
- The right to delivery within a reasonable time
- Your purchase should be delivered within 30 days unless you agree otherwise with the seller.
- The right to clear information
- EU online sellers must give you detailed information, including their contact details, the main characteristics of the product or service and the total cost, including all taxes and delivery charges.
- The 2-year guarantee
- Under EU law, if the items turn out to be faulty or not as advertised, you have the same 2-year guarantee as if you had bought it in a shop (in some countries, you may have additional rights).
Problems with my EU online purchase: what do I do?
Always try to contact the seller first: under your 2-year guarantee, the seller is liable if the product turns out to be faulty or not as advertised.
Check the terms of any additional commercial guarantees that the seller may have offered you: they are also binding for them.
If you have a dispute with a seller in another EU country* about your purchase or you are not sure about your rights, contact your European Consumer Centre.
Your European Consumer Centre can:
offer more detailed online advice on the additional online-shopping rights you may have in the country of your purchase;
advise you on your particular problem with your online order from another EU country*;
if you have a problem with an online purchase from another EU country* and have a complaint with the seller, they can handle your complaint and help you solve the problem.
* and Iceland, Norway
How the Centres helped others
Returning goods bought online: Irish consumer / UK seller
An Irish consumer bought a dress from a UK seller's website but decided she did not like it when it arrived.
Faulty goods bought online: Irish consumer / French trader
An Irish consumer ordered a graphics card which turned out to be faulty: it developed problems that the technical support team were unable to resolve.