Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Rights & Principles applicable when you buy goods or services online

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From 13th June 2014, there are new consumer rights also applicable online.

You can find out more about these and other consumer rights in the EU.
Information before concluding an online contract

Every consumer in the EU has the right to receive clear, correct and comprehensible key information from a trader about the product or service before making an online purchase. This information must include aspects such as the characteristics of the product, the price inclusive of taxes, delivery costs and the existence of a right of withdrawal or cancellation.

Contractual information

Every online consumer concluding a contract in the EU has the right to have easy, direct and permanent access to -at least- the following:

  • Name and address of the provider
  • Electronic mail address or website
  • VAT details where applicable
  • Any other detail allowing rapid and effective contact with the provider.

Subscribers of electronic communications services have the right to receive information from the provider, e.g. on applicable prices, tariffs and charges.

Right to fair contract conditions

Any consumer in the EU, also in the digital environment, is protected from unfair standard contract terms by traders that create an unreasonable imbalance to the detriment of the consumer. Unfair terms are in particular:

  • when a consumer did not have any real opportunity to become acquainted with the contract before its conclusion, but which bind the consumer;
  • when the contract exclude or hinder the consumer's right to take legal action;
  • when the contract is automatically extended to a fixed duration with an unreasonably short deadline;
  • when the price increases considerably without giving the consumer the right to cancel the contract.
Protection against unfair practices

Any consumer in the EU, including the digital consumer, has the right either to complain to the national enforcement authorities or to take legal action against a trader in the EU that uses unfair commercial practices.

Examples of unfair commercial practices are:

  • a trader is not allowed to make an invitation to purchase products at a specified price if he then refuses either to take orders for them or to deliver them within a reasonable time, with the intention of promoting a different product (‘bait and switch’);
  • a trader is not allowed to describe a product as "gratis", "free", "without charge" or similar if the consumer has to pay anything other than the unavoidable cost of responding to the commercial practice and collecting or paying for the delivery of the item;
  • a consumer cannot be asked to pay for or to return unsolicited products supplied by a trader ('inertia selling').

Delivery of goods and services without defects and in due time

Any consumer in the EU must receive goods or services ordered online from a trader within 30 days, unless something else has been agreed with the seller.

If the good or service was not delivered within this time-frame, the consumer has a right to be reimbursed.

Consumers can request repair or replacement free of charge if goods they receive are faulty or do not correspond to what they have ordered. The trader has to repair or replace the good within a reasonable time and with limited inconvenience to the consumer.

Right of withdrawal from a contract

Consumers in the EU have at least seven days to change their mind about goods or services they have ordered online from a trader.

For goods, the withdrawal period starts from the date of delivery, for services in general from the date the on-line order was placed.

Consumers can then withdraw from the contract without penalty and without giving any reason. Reimbursement of sums paid must be carried out as soon as possible and in any case within 30 days.

The only charge that can be made to the consumer in this case is the direct cost of returning the goods.



Last updated on 28/07/2015 - 16:45