15 April 2010

Consumers need not pay for delivery, when withdrawing from a distance contract

logo300 (2)photo © 2010 Pierre Rattini | more info (via: Wylio)

Have you been dispirited to buy things online due to uncertainty as to how far is the reach of your consumer rights? Then if you have, I may hereby present a ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) that provides for more legal clarity and encourages consumers to rely on their rights guaranteed by the Directive 97/7/EC on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts.

In particular, the ECJ ruled that suppliers must not seek to recover delivery cost from consumers deciding to withdraw from a distance contract. Funny enough, but the expense underlying the instant case amounted to only EUR 4,95. Yes, you are reading it correct: EUR 4,95. I know, the question as to who on earth would bother the ECJ for that laughable sum would be fully appropriate, however to the extent that, German meticulosity was not concerned. I believe, we should thank the Germans for their soft spot for accuracy and morality thereby resulting in consumer protection in particular and in legal certainty in general.

Having said the above, one should, however, not forget the somewhat special German scheme to protect consumer rights. Germany maintains so-called “Verbraucherzentrallen” or associations for consumer protection which are in charge to observe and enforce consumer rights and interests. In the instant case the association for consumer protection in the province of Nord Rhine – Westphalia succeded in obtaining an injunction against an online supplier and will eventually win the case. As such associations are publicly funded, they do not necessarily fear a defeat in court proceedings. That is most probably the reason for said association’s zeal to go through all the instances for such a case.

From a legal point of view, the ECJ’s ruling is remarkable as it precludes national legislation that does not grant a buying consumer, upon their withdrawal, with an explicit right to reimburse the cost of delivering the goods previously ordered. By so ruling, the ECJ strengthens the consumer protection and bars a possible imbalance between suppliers and consumers in distance contracts.


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Comments (11)

  1. 22 April 2010
    Vicente Natalie said...

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  2. 23 April 2010
    Herschel Randel said...

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    • 23 April 2010

      Thanks for reading this weblog, I hope to also in future be able to post information of your interest.

  3. 23 April 2010
    Tim Knabb said...

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  4. 26 April 2010
    Anja Kipp said...

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  5. 2 December 2010

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  6. 22 August 2011
    hyperbaric chamber said...

    You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour.
    I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me. Keep up the good post!

  7. 24 August 2011
    Justin said...

    Thanks for taking a stand on this. While the amount in the situation above may be negligible, the idea is not and we need leaders like yourself to stand up to this injustice that crooks can and will do to take advantage of the public consumer. How long do you think that the process will take before we fully restore the consumer confidence to make these types of purchases online again?

  8. 31 October 2011
    Michael Dixon said...

    Very useful blogs and this is true since customers who pays for something must have some kind of advantage that they can get from the product and services that they bought. Nice one, I think there are laws or bills regarding this matter.

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