In the EU, consumer protection legislation guarantees that everyone has the right to be treated fairly when buying goods at the supermarket, paying
the bill with the energy supplier or downloading music.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European treaties and sectorspecific EU legislation all guarantee a high level of consumer protection in the EU. European legislation guarantees consumers fair treatment, products which meet acceptable standards and a right of redress if something goes wrong.
Before you buy, know your rights!
As a consumer, when you pay for a product or service, be it online or in a shop, in your home country or elsewhere in the EU, you have rights. Many Europeans are unaware of some of their most basic consumer rights. EU law guarantees you fair treatment, proper information and the possibility to claim your rights, if anything goes wrong.
> Know your rights.> Get all the information before buying.> Insist on your rights if there is a problem.
1. Have defective goods repaired or replaced for free
If any item you buy in the EU, either online or from a shop, is different from how it is advertised or doesn’t work properly, you have at least the right to a free repair or replacement. If repair or replacement is not possible or impractical, you can request a refund or a price reduction instead (in some countries you may have a free choice between rights). You have these rights for a minimum of two years from the date of purchase in a shop or delivery to you.
2. Find support in your home country for problems with traders abroad
European Consumer Centres (ECC) offer you free advice and support when you buy goods or services from a trader in another EU country and give tips to help you avoid potentially costly problems. They can also help you if you have a dispute with a trader and advise you on further steps
if you can’t reach an agreement.
The UK European Consumer Centre http://www.ukecc.net/
3. Send online purchases back within two weeks
You have 14 days to reconsider your purchasing decision and withdraw. So, if you felt pressured to buy, have come across a better deal in the
meantime or have simply changed your mind about anything you bought online, you may always return it within two weeks and get your money
back. Remember that a product must be returned in a resaleable state to receive a full refund, so you can only check the product, not use it. For instance if you bought shoes, you can try them on at home but not wear them outside.
4. Get the full story on whatever you buy
Any company advertising, selling products or supplying services in the EU must give you information which is accurate and detailed
enough to allow you to make an informed choice. This means information about product characteristics, price, payment and delivery
conditions, the seller’s identity and contact details, as well as the duration of a contract and how to withdraw from it. Contract terms used
by traders must be fair and written in plain and clear language. Any points that aren’t clear will be interpreted in your favour and unfair terms won’t be legally binding.
5. Get your money back through the European Small Claims Procedure
If you can’t settle a problem with a trader or with the help of a European Consumer Centre, then in some cases you can make use of the
Small Claims Procedure (in all EU Member States with the exception of Denmark). This is a speedy, cost-effective alternative to traditional court procedures, and can currently be used for online transactions involving up to €2000. It works by just submitting a standard small claims form.