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Right of the Consumer to return a product purchased online or from a shop

Are you a consumer? Find out when you can return a product you purchased online or from a shop and when not!

There is a great deal of confusion relating to whether a consumer has the right to return a product s/he has purchased either online or from a shop, and when not. In this article we examine the cases where a consumer has such a right.

There are three cases where a consumer can return products purchased from online or from a shop.

1.When the products were purchased online

The first case is where the products were purchased online through the trader’s website. In such a case the consumer has the right to withdraw from the agreement within 14 days from the date of delivery. This means that s/he must return the products and the trader must return the price paid.

The consumer cannot be deprived of this right except in specific cases such as in the case of products which have a short expiration date, sanitary products, etc.

2.When the products purchased are defective

The second case in which the consumer can return the products is when these are defective. Regardless of how the purchase was made (i.e. in-store or online) a company has to deliver products that conform with the agreement made with the consumer, that is, they must comply with the description, quality and purpose for which they were purchased.

In case they do not conform with the agreement, then the consumer has the right to return the products and the trader has the obligation to return the price paid. This right is not absolute in that several conditions have to be satisfied prior to being able to return the products:

Α) The consumer must inform the trader about the lack of conformity within 2 months from the date s/he discovered the lack of conformity.

Β) The right to return the products is available only in cases where the non-compliance occurs within 2 years from the date of their delivery (for used products the period of non-compliance is 1 year).

C) The consumer is not entitled to return the products when the non-compliance is minor/insignificant. It is noted that the consumer may consider alternatives to returning the products. Such alternatives may include requesting free repair or replacement of the defective products.

3.When the trader provides to the consumer a right to return or exchange the products purchased

The third case where the consumer has a right to return the products purchased is when the trader provides consumers with the right to return products with a parallel obligation on the trader to return the price paid or where the trader allows the consumer to purchase products of equal value from the same trader.

This right may be extended by more than the 14-day period of withdrawal applicable in cases where products are purchased online. Also, if the trader so wishes, this right can apply to all types of purchases – that is, to online purchases as well as to in-store purchases.

The right granted to the consumer by a trader to return purchased products, must not conflict with the consumer’s legal right to return products. Therefore, a trader is prohibited from advertising that:

  • The products purchased online can be returned within 10 days (instead of 14 days); or
  • That the products purchased online may be returned within 14 and exchanged with other products of the same value (rather than a refund of the price paid by the consumer).

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The publication of this article is partly funded by the European Union’s “Consumer Programme (2014-2020)”.

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