What you should know before buying
Wherever you buy a product or service in the EU the trader must provide you with clear, correct and understandable information about the product or service before you make the purchase.
This contract information should include:
- the main product characteristics
- the total price inclusive of taxes and all charges
- delivery costs, (if applicable) - and any other additional charges
- arrangements for payment, delivery or performance
- the trader's identity, address and telephone number
- the duration of the contract (if applicable)
Some of this information may not have to be provided explicitly, if it is apparent from the context - such as the characteristics of a product which are displayed on a shelf in the shop.
Moreover, if you buy online, by telephone, by mail order catalogue or from a door-to-door salesperson, the following more detailed information must also be provided before you make a purchase:
- e-mail address of the trader
- any delivery restrictions in certain countries
- the right to cancel your order within 14 days
- available after-sales services
- dispute resolution mechanisms
- trade register number of the trader
- professional title and VAT details of the trader (if applicable)
- professional association to which the trader belongs (if applicable)
For such purchases, you should bear in mind that you do not have to pay any delivery costs or other charges of which you were not informed.
Prior information forms part of the contract unless you and the trader jointly agree on changes to the terms given on, for example, the trader's website.
Contracts must be written in plain and understandable language and cannot contain unfair contract terms.
In some EU countries, the right to receive confirmation for your order, to cancel it and other legal requirements do not apply to door-to-door purchases of less than EUR 50.
Specific information requirements apply when you buy digital content online, e.g. when downloading or streaming music or video. Before you make the purchase, you must also be informed how the content operates with relevant hardware/software (interoperability) and about its functionalities, including whether any geographical restrictions apply to the use of the content and if private copies are allowed.
Buying from non-EU online traders
Your consumer rights under EU rules normally also apply to purchases from non-EU online traders targeting consumers in the EU. However, you may have difficulties in asserting your rights with traders based outside the EU.
It's always good to check where the trader is registered. An internet address ending ".eu", ".ie", or ".co.uk", etc. does NOT guarantee that the trader is based – and registered – in the EU.
Once you have made a purchase online or from a door-to-door salesperson, you must receive written confirmation of your transaction. The confirmation must be on paper or on another durable medium such as e-mail, fax or a message to your personal account on the trader's website – provided it is something you can store and which the trader cannot unilaterally change.
After-sales communication by telephone
Traders who provide after-sales telephone lines for consumers must make sure that such calls are charged at the basic rate. It is forbidden for traders to require consumers to use, for example, premium-rate telephone lines to make enquiries or complaints about their purchase or contract.