Alan is a specialist on VAT, customs duties, sales tax and other tax matters relating to the digital sector.In this presentation, Alan talks about various consumer rights that any online retailers should consider.
Knowing consumer rights in Europe for eCommerce Businesses - Alan Rhode
Online Seller Meetup – London
Alan M. Rhode
29 September 2017
Knowing Consumer Rights in Europe
for eCommerce Businesses
Terms of Sale
Terms of Sale
• If your run an online store, you need to draft and
publish your own the Terms of Sale.
• In most cases, Marketplace sellers must abide to the
Marketplace Terms of Sale.
• Minimum statutory content for an online store’s
Terms of Sale.
Terms of Sale – minimum content
• Non-exhaustive list:
Main product features
Any additional charges
Delivery method and timing
Right of return (in detail)
Mentioning other statutory consumer rights
Commercial guarantee, if any
• Right to cancel an order: all EU national laws allow
consumers to cancel online sales within 14 days from
the delivery date without giving any explanations.
• Exemptions: customised products, fresh food
products, concert tickets, etc.
• The customer must return the unused goods within
14 days of informing the seller.
• The seller must make a refund within 14 days of (a)
either getting the goods back, or (b) receiving
evidence of product return (e.g., proof of postage),
whichever the earliest.
Product returns (2)
• Product refund must include the shipping costs for
• The merchant is not required to pay the shipping costs
to return the product, unless it has offered to do so in
the Terms of Sale.
• The merchant can insert more favourable terms in
the Terms of Sale (e.g., 30-day cancellation period).
• Failure to inform consumers of their statutory right of
returning products leads to an extension of the
cancellation period up to 1 year.
Product returns (3)
• The merchant can give a partial refund or deny
refund if the customer has diminished the value of
the goods by handling them beyond what necessary to
establish their nature/characteristics or function (e.g.,
removing labels, staining the product, etc.).
• “The returns policy offered by Marketplace Sellers must be
equivalent to or better than the returns policy offered by
Amazon.co.uk (except in the case of Amazon.co.uk's
extended Christmas returns policy”
• Even if you are right: be careful about poor reviews,
bad ratings, etc.!
• Merchants must supply consumers with products
which are in conformity with the relevant contract of
sale = no flawed or faulty products
• Conformity means:
1. The product must be of satisfactory quality;
2. The product must be fit for purpose; and
3. The product should be what the consumer
4. Where the supplier is to install the goods, this
must be done properly.
Statutory guarantee (2)
• Duration: the lenght of the guarantee varies among EU
states. It cannot be shorter than 2 yers from the date
• UK: if there is a flaw, it lasts up to 6 years (5 years in
Scotland) However, after 6 months there is a reverse
of the burden of proof against the consumer.
• UK Remedies:
1. 30-day right to reject for consumer;
2. Merchant offers repairing or replacement;
3. Reduction of price or refund, if 2) above is too
costly or unavailable
Statutory guarantee (3)
• Merchant’s upstream right of redress against the
distributor/produce for faulty products.
• Statutory guarantee vs. commercial guarantee.
• A commercial guarantee is a voluntary service of the
manufacturer, trader or third parties, usually a
minimum life period for the product.
• Most marketplaces hold customer complaint
procedures the merchant must follow.