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23/07/2013

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A shopper’s guide to consumer rights

What are our rights as consumers? Whether it is clothes, mobile phones or travel packages, European law ensures that each of us gets the same fair deal and that we have the same rights and same protection, no matter where we are in the EU.

A shopper’s guide to consumer rights

Within the EU, you can ‘shop until you drop’ – you can buy what you want where you want, without having to worry about paying customs duties or additional taxes when you return home. Whether you go to another country to shop or whether you order something over the internet, by post or telephone, you are protected by these basic consumer rights:

  • Transparency: EU law requires that sellers give you full details of who they are, what they are selling, and how much it costs (including taxes and delivery charges).
  • Quality: If you buy something that turns out to be broken, you can return it and have it repaired or replaced. If repair or replacement is not possible, you can ask for a price reduction or a complete refund of your money.
  • Contract terms and conditions: Unfair contract terms are prohibited by EU law.
  • Safety: EU countries have among the highest product safety standards in the world.
  • Price comparison: Supermarkets must give you the ‘unit price’ of products – how much they cost per kilo or per litre – to help you decide which is the best value for money.

Know your rights!

Which rules apply during promotional sales? What are the risks of participating in an online lottery? What does a sales contract actually look like? Only 2% of EU consumers are fully aware of their rights. Find the answer to these questions and more and test your knowledge of consumer rights at ‘Consumer Classroom’, an EU consumer portal with specific information for the United Kingdom.

Survival kit for online shoppers

Looking for the widest selection and the lowest prices? Then the internet is the right address! You can shop from the comfort of your own home, avoiding overcrowded shops while you casually browse through all the different options. But does online shopping live up to its hassle-free promise?

In fact, many consumers remain wary of giving out their bank details over the internet, shopping in other languages and making cross-border purchases. The good news is that if you buy something online you benefit from all the rights you have if you buy it in person. In addition, you have the right to change your mind and withdraw from the contract within a legally defined period, which must be at least seven working days. To get the best value for money and enjoy all the benefits of online shopping, get informed about your rights and use them.

  • Find out more about the seller, including how to contact them.
  • Make sure the website offers secure payment methods, and check your credit card statement to confirm that you’ve been billed correctly.
  • Verify what the price includes. Look out for extra charges.
  • Check the privacy terms, and be careful with your personal data.

To find out more: