Potential problems

Updated: 2/8/2016

Here is some information about problems that might occur after a purchase, and what you can do to solve them.

In case of non-delivery

  • After the conclusion of a contract, the trader has 30 days to deliver the goods or to perform the service ordered, unless you and the trader have agreed on another time of delivery.
  • If the trader has not delivered the goods within the time agreed, you can call upon him to make the delivery within an additional period of time appropriate to the circumstances. Keep proof that this has been done.
  • If the trader still has not delivered the goods within that additional time given, you have the right to end the contract.
  • However, if the delivery of the product within the agreed timeframe was essential the consumer is entitled to terminate the contract immediately upon expiry of the initially agreed time limit. If you require delivery by a certain date eg for a special occasion or Christmas, you should inform the trader, prior to the conclusion of the contract, that delivery by the specified date is essential.
  • When you have terminated the contract, the trader has to reimburse all sums paid without any delay.
  • If the trader refuses to pay you back, try contacting your bank. For credit card transactions you may be able to obtain assistance from your bank, in recovering the money if the trader refuses to refund you.[1] Debit card payments may be covered by internal rules of the card schemes which gives the bank a possibility, under certain conditions, to try and help the consumer reverse payments made to a trader. However strict deadlines operate for these schemes and so it is important to act promptly. 

Legal warranty – in case of faulty products and services

  • A product or service is faulty if it does not comply with the given description of the product or service or if it cannot be used for normal purposes or the specific purposes given by you to the trader. The product or service is also faulty if it does not show the normal quality and performance as can be reasonably expected.
  • In the first place, the consumer may require the seller to repair the goods or replace them (in either case free of charge) unless this is impossible or disproportionate. Under certain conditions the consumer may require an appropriate price reduction or have the contract rescinded.

These rules apply in general up to, at least, 24 months from the date of purchase but some countries have a longer period during which you can exercise your rights.

  • The seller is liable for any lack of conformity which exists when the goods are delivered to you or which arise within a period of, at least, two years from delivery. However, the lack of conformity cannot be established if, at the moment of conclusion of the contract of sale, the consumer knew or could not reasonably have been unaware of the lack of conformity.
  • Any lack of conformity that becomes apparent within six months of delivery will be presumed to have existed at the time of delivery, unless proof to the contrary is furnished or this presumption is incompatible with the nature of the goods or the nature of the lack of conformity.[2]During the first 6 months after purchase the burden of proof is on the trader to demonstrate that a product is not faulty; whereas after 6 months have elapsed, it is up to consumers to prove the that the product is not in conformity. (Except in Portugal and, as of 2016, France).
  • If the purchase is cancelled the trader must reimburse all sums paid under the contract. The trader is also obliged to pay for the expenses you had when sending back the goods.

If things go wrong – making a complaint

  • Start by making a complaint to the web trader in writing and complain about the fault. Explain what the problem is, what you want them to do about it and when you want it done by. Enclose a description of the fault, photos can also be helpful to clearly point out the fault.

It is important that you inform the trader whether you are using your right of withdrawal or if you are complaining about a faulty product or service.

  • It is important to know that the term legal guarantee relates to the legal protection of the purchaser in respect of defects in the goods acquired. This legal protection is rendered compulsory by the law and is not dependent upon the contract. It is the seller of the product who is responsible for faulty goods under consumer legislation.
  • The term commercial guarantee, relates to the willingness of the guarantor, who voluntarily assumes liability for certain defects e.g. a manufacturer.
  • If you receive no satisfactory answer from a trader located in another EU country or Norway and Iceland, contact the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in the country where you live for further advice and assistance.

Can I be responsible for lost or damaged goods?

In general, the trader is responsible for the goods until you have acquired the physical possession of them. This means that if the goods are lost or damaged before they are delivered to you, the trader is responsible for it. However, if the transportation of the goods is arranged by you, you are responsible for the goods directly upon delivery to the carrier.

Be aware that when returning goods following the exercise of your right of withdrawal, you are responsible for them until they are received by the seller. For this reason it is important to return goods by means of recorded delivery so you will have some redress against the transport company for damaged items or if the goods are misplaced.

When delivery is accepted by the neighbours without previous consent by you, the responsibility remains the trader’s. This is not the case when delivery is done to a third person which you agreed with. 

[1] In some countries there is a statutory right of assistance by the bank when paying with a credit card. See ECC-Net report “Chargeback in the EU/EEA. A solution to get your money back when a trader does not respect your consumer rights”.

[2] DIRECTIVE 1999/44/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 25 May 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees