SHOPPING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
The European Single Market gives consumers access to a wide range of products and services at competitive prices while European consumer rights legislation ensures protection for consumers when buying goods and services across Europe.
GENERAL CONSUMER RIGHTS
Under the governing EU legislation, consumer goods must be:
- As described by the seller and possess the qualities of the product which the seller has held out to the consumer as a sample or model.
- Fit for the purpose for which goods of the same type are normally used. The goods should also be fit for any particular purpose for which the consumer requires them and which was made known to the seller at the time of conclusion to the contract, and accepted by the seller.
- Of merchantable quality, in terms of the quality and performance reasonably expected
All businesses should act in good faith, not make misleading statement or claims about their product and not exercise undue influence that would entice a consumer to make a purchase.
Learn more about products conformity here.
In addition to the basic consumer rights above, consumers can also avail of additional guarantee / warranty rights. Learn more: here.
RIGHT TO NON-DISCRIMINATION
EU consumers are given equal rights to access a trader’s goods or services, under the same terms, irrespective of their location. Discrimination, also known as geo-blocking, happens when sellers/providers restrict cross-border sales based on a consumer’s nationality or residence.
Learn more about geo-blocking here.
RIGHT TO TRANSPARENCY
Any company advertising, selling products or supplying services in the EU must provide
information to consumers that is accurate and detailed enough to allow you to make an informed choice. This includes information about:
- the seller’s identity, address and contact details
- product characteristics of all products for sale
- itemised price or inclusive price displaying all taxes and charges
- payment terms and methods
- delivery conditions
- how to withdraw from a sale contract/ cancel and order
Contract terms must be fair and written in plain and clear language. Any unclear points or and unfair terms are not legally binding.
EU countries must ensure that consumers, buyers of services and service recipients, are provided with complete and transparent information on the services they inted to buy, as well as information on their consumer rights if they make purchases in other EU Member States.
Learn more about the rights of service recipients here.
ONLINE CONSUMER RIGHTS
EU online sellers must provide prospective online consumers with detailed information such as:
- Name and address
- Main characteristics of the good/service
- Price including taxes a
- Delivery costs and method
- How payment is to be made
- How the service will be provided/performed
- The minimum duration of the contract for a service and how long it will be open to you to enter into the contract on these terms
- Cancellation policy and the conditions for terminating acontract if it is of unlimited duration or for longer than one year.
- Returns policy
- The cost of customer service communications if it is above a basic rate
- Post-sale available guarantees and services
REFUND AFTER COOLING OFF
When you shop online you have the right to a “cooling-off” period of 14 calendar days where you can withdraw from the contract and return your purchases to the seller.
This excludes hotel bookings, car rental, travel tickets and other leisure services, personalised goods, audio/video content and products, perishable goods, gaming and lottery services.
Where a consumer exercises their right of withdrawal as above, the trader is obliged to refund them within 14 days.
REFUND FOR DELAYED / NON-DELIVERY
Your purchase should be delivered within 30 days unless you agree otherwise with the seller. A consumer can cancel the order and claim a refund if:
- the ordered did / will not arrive in time for a specified essential event
- the trader fails to deliver by a date specified by the consumer
- the trader has stated unequivocally that it cannot / will not deliver the goods
- the trader fails to deliver the item(s) within a mutually agreed additional period
Where the contract is cancelled, the trader is obliged to refund the consumer any and all sums that have been paid under the contract within 14 days.
Learn more about online shopping rights here.
If you bought or received a faulty product, you should always contact the seller first to report the issue. Your contract is with the seller who sold you the product and under consumer legislation and it is up to them to put things right. They may liaise further with their suppliers or the manufacturer to resolve the matter.
Where the goods are purchased within the EU/EEA, in the event of ‘lack of conformity’ consumers are entitled to a number of remedies, as follows:
Upon Delivery / Within Six Months
If the lack of conformity of the products purchased is evident upon delivery or becomes apparent within six months of the delivery, the seller must:
- Repair or replace the goods free of charge
- Offer a reduction in price
- Operate a refund
After Six Months / Within Two Years
If a lack of conformity or a fault appears between six months and up to two years from the time of delivery (and 6 years in Ireland), the consumer must prove that the fault was not the result of normal wear and tear or own misuse in order to be entitled to the same remedies above.
The European Consumer Centre Ireland provides free advice and support when you buy goods or services from a trader in another EU country and can help consumers avoid potentially costly problems. We also help if you have a dispute with a trader and advise you on further steps if you can’t reach an agreement. If we are unable to assist directly, we will further advise or refer you to out-of-court or in-court dispute resolution procedures, such as Alternative Dispute Resolution or the European Small Claims Procedure.