Shopping on the Internet can be fun, and you can make some really good finds. However, long-distance contractual relationships can be a very treacherous territory. To avoid disappointments, you should look out carefully before shopping and get a clear idea of what your rights are.
Whether you bought a good or a service online or outside of a shop – by telephone, mail order, etc. -, in any case a customer always find protection. Indeed, under EU rules a trader must repair, replace, reduce the price or give you a refund if goods you bought turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised. When shopping as a consumer on the Internet with a trader within the EU you are normally have a right to cancel and return your purchase. The cancellation right applies to both goods and services.
You have a cancellation right no matter which EU country you are shopping in, but rules may vary from country to country. In fact, some shopping sales may find protection under domestic rules, as in other cases it is the legislation of the seller’s home country that applies. Look at the indicators (language, currency, delivery, domain name, etc.) you find in the web-site and this will help you evaluate where the seller’s marketing was aimed at.
- How long is the cooling-off period?
Under EU provisions, the cooling-off period is 14 days, but if you are trading on a foreign website it is often the legislation of the seller’s country that finds application. Notice that when the period expires on a non-working day, your deadline will automatically be extended till the next working day.
In Italy, you are entitled to exercise your cancellation within 14 days from receipt for any reason and with no justification, for a full refund. If the seller’s marketing was aimed at the Italian market you are protected by Italian rules. If you wish to know how long the cooling-off period is in another EU country, you should check out the individual cooling-off period of the EU country you are trading with. Remember to always see the section on the seller’s duty of disclosure.
Please notice that the 14-day “cooling off” period does not apply to some peculiar services or products, such as plane and train tickets, concert tickets, hotel bookings, car rental reservations and catering services for specific dates, goods made to order or clearly personalised, goods bought from a private individual rather than a company, etc. Always, check out the legislation to find out potential internal restrictions.
- How to cancel a purchase?
If you have bought goods on the Internet and subsequently wish to exercise your cancellation rights you must unequivocally inform the trader of your decision to cancel the purchase. The trader must provide you with a model withdrawal form, which you can use to inform about your decision, even though it is not mandatory to use it. The communication of intention to withdraw however is not enough for cancellation, as you must send the unused goods back to the seller within 14 days of informing the trader. You can combine the two obligations – to inform the trader and to send back the goods – for example, by sending back the goods together with a written statement by post, fax or e-mail.
As the cancellation right is exercised, the trader has the duty to give the due refund within 14 days from receipt of your cancellation, but can delay refunding you if they have not received the goods or evidence that you have returned. If you cancel a purchase you must pay for the return freight yourself. You have a right to repayment of the purchase price and any delivery costs within 30 days, however the trader should inform you that you have to pay the costs of returning the goods, as if they fail do so, they will have to bear the cost.
If you have returned the goods within the fixed period and they are – through no fault of yours – damaged or lost during transport, you will retain your cancellation right. It is advisable therefore that you get a date stamped receipt for your dispatch.
If you have bought a service, you need only inform the seller that you wish to cancel the purchase within the prescribed time-limit. You can, for example, do this by email.
Please note that the seller may lay down restrictions on the extent to which you may open, examine or use the item if you want to keep your cancellation right. However, you must be informed of this before the agreement is made.
- The seller’s duty of disclosure
When you buy goods and services on the Internet the seller is to some extent subject to a duty of disclosure. In fact, he is required to give you some information on the date of delivery at the latest, namely:
- Name, main activity and a physical address
- The nature and most important qualities of the goods/services
- The total price
- Terms of payment, delivery, notice period, if any, etc.
- Whether there is a cancellation right – both if there is and if thre is not – and the related conditions.
The information is to be given to you in writing.
If you have received this information correctly, the cancellation right will run from the date of your receipt of the goods or from the date of making the agreement on the purchase of a service.
Different EU countries may have different rules about the cancellation right, so it is a good idea to examine the terms and conditions relating to the cancellation right before shopping.
- Advice on Cancellation Rights in Italy
If you do business via your web-site, we can provide you with e-commerce legal advice from experienced lawyers to minimise your commercial risk. We will help you to understand when the contract is formed, whether there are rights of cancellation, how you deal with returns and complaints. Our team of English-speaking Italian lawyers can assist both local and foreign clients, we enjoy the support of an international network of experienced and skilled attorneys coming from four different legislations, which can provide you with all the assistance you need.
Please do not hesitate to contact our Italian department or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will offer you legal assistance and guidance for settling rapidly and cost efficiently.
Article by Daniela Pacino | Make your legal enquiry here.