Buying Electronically: Your Rights

Buying online or through other forms of electronic media actually means you have more rights not less rights than if you were to buy something in a retail store. This is due to the “Distance Selling Regulations” of the European Union which have been implemented in the national law of all member states of the EU.

What are the Distance Selling Regulations? How can they protect me if I buy online, over the telephone or from a TV shopping channel or interactive TV?

The Distance Selling Regulations dictate that items you buy must be:

  • as described, according to the description given by the retailer
  • of satisfactory quality
  • fit for purpose – suitable for the purpose for which the item was sold.

Under the Distance Selling Regulations you also have the right to:

  • information about the trader, the goods and services and your rights before you buy them
  • written confirmation of this and additional information before or soon after you have made your purchase
  • cancel your order anytime from when you place it, to a minimum of seven working days after the date you received the goods (these times may differ across Europe but this information must always be made available to you)
  • a full refund within 30 days if the goods or services are not provided within 30 days or the agreed date at the time of purchase.

The Distance Selling Regulations have strengthened consumer rights regarding delivery and billing of items that have not been specifically ordered by the customer. Hence, according to the EU the mailing of unordered merchandise or services to consumers and then demanding payment is prohibited. The absence of a reaction shall not be deemed as consent. Regarding the specific ruling in your country regarding sending of an unordered item and the legal consequences, please see the local law in your country.