Purchasing goods on the Internet
Before ordering goods on the Internet, make sure to familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions of ordering. If the information provided is not clear enough, address your questions to customer service and request that the seller present important information in writing. This is necessary in terms of resolving future claims.
When making purchases on the Internet, it is recommended to print out and keep all the information and communication (description of the product or service, the order prepared, the trader’s confirmation on receiving the order etc.). The Law of Obligations Act provides the information that must be presented to a consumer before a purchase is made:
- the name and address of the supplier;
- the main characteristics of the goods or services;
- the price of the goods or services, including taxes and other components of the price and the size thereof, while the size of the advance payment shall be indicated in the terms and conditions of the contract;
- the size of the postal charges, transport costs and taxes which are not included in the price;
- the procedure for payment for the goods or services and the circumstances relating to the delivery of the goods or provision of the services;
- the right of withdrawal from the contract, i.e. during which time is it possible to disclaim the goods ordered and practical instructions on realising the right of withdrawal.
Be sure to pay attention to who the other party to the contract is – it is vital that the transaction take place between a consumer and a legal person. Consumer protection laws are not extended to transactions between two private persons.
Right of withdrawal
Considering that in case of purchases made using means of communication, it is impossible for the consumer to familiarise him-/herself with the product as thoroughly as in a regular store, the consumer has the respective right to withdraw from a contract entered into over the means of communication within 14 days since the moment the product reached the consumer. In case of purchasing a service, the 14 days begin since entering into the contract.
What do consumers need to know in connection with returning goods
- If the seller has not given information about the right f withdrawal or provided any other significant information, the consumer shall have the right to withdraw from the contract within three months since the arrival of the product.
- If the seller is unable to fulfil the order, he/she shall notify the consumer of it and return the money paid immediately, but no later than within 30 days!
- Often, the trader will pay the postal charges relating to the return of a product. At the same time, the trader may burden the consumer with the obligation, but in this case, it shall be explicitly stated in the written terms and conditions of ordering. In addition, the expenses connected with returning goods shall not exceed 10 euros.
- In case of withdrawal from the contract, the seller shall return the money paid immediately, but no later than within 30 days since the withdrawal from the contract.
NB! The 14-day right of return does not apply for:
- goods made according to the personal needs of the person who placed the order (e.g. made to the consumer’s measures);
- goods that deteriorate fast or whose usage period has expired;
- printed matter published periodically (e.g. magazines);
- audio and video recordings and computer software, if the consumer has opened the packaging;
- things that cannot be returned due to their nature.
Filing a complaint
In addition to the right to disclaim the purchase within 14 days, the consumer shall have the right to present the seller with a complaint about goods that fail to comply with the sample offered or are defective. Therefore, if a defect is discovered on goods, the person’s rights remain unchanged, regardless if the purchase was made in a regular store, an online store, by mail order or phone or, for example, on public transport, and a complaint can be filed within two years since receiving the goods.
If a consumer has purchased an item from an online store of another EU Member State and has a claim towards the trader, then he/she can use the new electronic environment, the ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) platform for resolving the matter.
The ODR platform is mainly designated for the resolution of cross-border disputes, but it is possible to use it for domestic complaints as well. The platform allows the consumer to submit a complaint electronically to the trader with the purpose of agreeing on the use of a dispute resolution entity, after which the platform forwards the complaint automatically and immediately to the dispute resolution entity.
As the ODR platform is a technical solution, meaning the consumer or the trader may need to contact the help desk from time to time, the development also offers the opportunity to ask for help. In Estonia, the European Consumer Centre of Estonia offers the help and guidance services.