Distance shopping – consumer rights

The contract

In the case of distance shopping or an off-premises contract, the consumer is subject to special protection resulting from the nature of the form of contract conclusion.

The conclusion of distance contracts is characterised by:

  • using only means of distance communication until conclusion of the agreement inclusive,
  • negotiations and conclusion of the contract take place without the simultaneous presence of both parties (seller and consumer).

Continuous developments in technology do not allow to draw up an exhaustive list of means of distance communication. Examples of the most common forms of contract conclusion are:

  • mail order,
  • Internet,
  • telephone.

Unless the parties have agreed on another date, the trader supplies goods without undue delay, but not later than 30 days after the contract conclusion. When the trader fails to keep a date, the consumer calls on the trader to deliver the order in an additional period, applicable to the circumstances (e.g. 14 days). After ineffective expiration of the additional period, the consumer may withdraw from the contract.

Information obligations

Both in the case of distance contracts and off-premises contracts, the trader must inform the consumer prior to the conclusion of a contract inter alia about the following:

  • trader identification data,
  • the basic characteristics of the good or service,
  • the total price or remuneration along with taxes and fees for delivery, postal services and any other additional costs,
  • methods of payment, delivery or provision,
  • the complaint procedure,
  • in the case of the right to withdraw from the contract, the terms, dates and procedure of withdrawal,
  • the cost of returning the goods in case of withdrawal
  • the time limit within which the offer or price remain binding

After contract conclusion, the consumer must receive the confirmation of contract conclusion and the above information on a durable medium (e.g. on paper or by e-mail). The confirmation should be provided within a reasonable time, but not later than at the time of the delivery of the goods or before the performance of the service begins.

NOTE: In the case of off-premises or distance contracts, it is the trader that must provide evidence for fulfilment of information obligations.

Withdrawal from the contract

The consumer has the right to withdraw from an off-premises or a distance contract within 14 days without without giving any reason (the same time limit applies in the entire EU, Norway and Iceland). The withdrawal from the contract does not depend on consent of the trader – it is a unilateral declaration of will. The right to withdraw from the contract does not apply to purchases made in brick and mortar stores.

How to withdraw from the contract?

  • In the case of service contracts the time limit of 14 days starts running on the day of contract conclusion, while in the case of sales contracts – on the day on which the consumer received the goods. If the consumer was not informed on the right of withdrawal, the time limit is extended to 12 months.
  • In order to withdraw from the contract, the consumer must notify the trader about it observing the 14-day time limit. The notification should be made in writing and its copy should be kept for evidentiary purposes.
  • The consumer should send back the goods not later than 14 days after having informed the trader about his decision to withdraw from the contract. The consumer bears only the direct cost of returning the goods, if he/she has been duly informed about it.
  • An online shop cannot make the withdrawal of the consumer from a distance contract dependent on return of goods in the original packaging, which was not the object of sale, but served only to protect the goods. However, it is advisable to return the goods in the original packaging, if possible.
  • The trader has an obligation to immediately, not later than 14 days after having been information about the consumer’s withdrawal from the contract, reimburse all payments received from the consumer, including the cost of goods delivery. The trader may withhold the reimbursement until he has received the goods back, or until he has received evidence that the goods were sent.
  • If at the explicit request of the consumer, the service provision begins immediately, then in the case of withdrawal the consumer must pay for the service provided by the time of withdrawal.
  • The consumer is liable only for any diminished value of the goods resulting from the handling of the goods other than what is necessary to establish the nature, characteristics and functioning of the goods.

Exceptions from the right of withdrawal:

  • purchase of goods which are liable to deteriorate or expire rapidly (e.g. food)
  • purchase of goods made to the consumer’s specifications or clearly personalised (e.g. custom made furniture, custom tailored suits, engraved jewellery)
  • purchase of sealed goods which are not suitable for return due to health protection or hygiene reasons and were unsealed after delivery (e.g. medicinal products, wet wipes)
  • purchase of sealed audio or sealed video recordings or sealed computer software which were unsealed after delivery
  • purchase of accommodation (other than for residential purpose), transport of goods, car rental services, catering or services related to leisure activities, entertainment, sport or cultural events, if the contract provides for a specific date or period of performance.

NOTE:The Act on consumer rights does not apply to contract related to passenger transport, travel service contracts or timeshare contracts.

warranty and guarantee

Time limits
and legal basis