Last checked: 09/04/2019

Guarantees and returns

Under EU rules, a trader must repair, replace, reduce the price or give you a refund if goods you bought turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised.

If you bought a product or a service online or outside of a shop (by telephone, mail order, from a door-to-door salesperson), you also have the right to cancel and return your order within 14 days, for any reason and without a justification.

If you're not sure which situation applies to you, you can also try our consumer rights tool to help you understand your rights when you shop in the EU.

More information about:

Guarantees for faulty goods

Free of charge, 2-year guarantee for all goods

You always have the right to a minimum 2-year guarantee at no cost, regardless of whether you bought your goods online, in a shop or by mail order.

This 2-year guarantee is your minimum right, however national rules in your country may give you extra protection.

If goods you bought anywhere in the EU turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised, the seller must repair or replace them free of charge or give you a price reduction or a full refund.

You can usually only ask for a partial or full refund when it is not possible to repair or replace the goods.

You might not be entitled to a refund if the problem is minor, such as a scratch on a CD case.

Additional guarantees (commercial guarantees and warranties)

Shops or manufacturers will often offer you an additional commercial guarantee (also called a "warranty"), either included in the price of the product or at an extra cost.

This can give you better protection but can never replace or reduce the minimum 2-year guarantee, which you always have under EU rules.

Similarly, if a shop sells you a new product more cheaply and claims that you have no guarantee, this only means that you don't have any additional protection. You always have the right to a 2-year guarantee free of charge if the product turns out to be faulty or not as advertised.

Sample story

Your 2-year legal guarantee cannot be shortened by a commercial guarantee

Carla bought a hairdryer with a 6-month seller's guarantee. When it broke after 8 months, she took it back to the shop. The shop assistant told her that her guarantee had run out and that she was not entitled to a refund.

Carla rightly pointed out that she had a full 2-year guarantee free of charge under EU consumer protection law, and that the seller's 6-month guarantee only offered additional services. The shop agreed to replace the hairdryer.

Second-hand goods

Second–hand goods that you buy from a trader are also covered by the minimum 2-year guarantee. However, goods bought from private individuals are not covered.

In some EU countries, when you buy second-hand goods you can agree with the trader on a guarantee period of less than 2 years. However, it must be no shorter than 1 year and should be made clear at the time of purchase.

How to get goods repaired, replaced or refunded

The 2-year guarantee period starts as soon as you receive your goods. If your goods break within these 2 years, the trader always has to provide a solution for you. In some EU countries you also have the right to request a remedy from the manufacturer.

  • If your product breaks within the first 6 months, it is assumed that the problem existed when you received the goods, unless the trader can prove otherwise. Therefore, you have the right to a repair or replacement free of charge, or if this turns out to be too difficult or costly, you may be offered a price reduction or your money back.
  • If your product breaks after 6 months, you still have the right to have your goods repaired or replaced for free or, at least, to a price reduction or your money back. However, you may need to prove that the problem existed when you received the goods.

The European Consumer Centre in your country can help if you have a problem with goods you bought in or from another EU country.

For more detailed information about your rights under national law, check the specific rules on legal guarantees and commercial warranties for the country where you made your purchase:

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* Information not yet provided by national authorities

Your right to cancel and return an order

14 day cooling off period

In the EU you have the right to return purchases made online or through other types of distance selling, such as by phone, mail order or from a door-to-door salesperson, within 14 days for a full refund. You can do so for any reason – even if you simply changed your mind.

The 14-day cooling off period does not apply to all purchases. Some of the exemptions are:

  • plane and train tickets, as well as concert tickets, hotel bookings, car rental reservations and catering services for specific dates
  • goods and drinks delivered to you by regular delivery – for example delivery by a milkman
  • goods made to order or clearly personalised – such as a tailor-made suit
  • sealed audio, video or computer software, such as DVDs, which you have unsealed upon receipt
  • online digital content, if you have already started downloading or streaming it and you agreed that you would lose your right of withdrawal by starting the performance
  • goods bought from a private individual rather than a company
  • urgent repairs and maintenance contracts – if you call a plumber to repair a leaking shower, you can't cancel the work once you have agreed on the price of the service

Please note that this list is not exhaustive.

The cooling off period expires 14 days after the day you received your goods. For service contracts, the cooling off period expires 14 days after the day you concluded the contract. If the cooling off period expires on a non-working day, your deadline is extended till the next working day.

Sample story

You can't change your mind for some types of purchases

Jane bought a ticket online for a U2 concert in Ireland. She found out the following day that she would have to be out of the country on the concert date, and triedto cancel her ticket. However, the online trader refused to cancel the order and give her a refund, as the 14 day cooling off period doesn't apply to concert ticket purchases.

If you buy goods in a shop, you have no EU legal right to return the goods (for exchange or refund) unless the item is faulty. However, many shops voluntarily allow customers to return or exchange goods during a certain time period, provided you have the receipt. Check your receipt or the returns policy of the shop where you made your purchase for more information.

 

How to cancel a purchase

You must tell the trader that you want to cancel your purchase. It is not enough just to send the goods back. The trader must give you a model withdrawal form which you can use to tell them about your decision, but you don't have to use it. You can inform the trader and send back your goods at the same time, for example, by adding a written statement with the goods that you are returning by post, by sending an e-mail, or by completing an online returns form on the trader's website.

You must send the unused goods back within 14 days of informing the trader.

Some traders may not charge you for returning your goods. However, they should tell you in advance (before you order) if you will have to pay if you decide to return your order. If they don't tell you that you must pay for your return, the trader will have to pay for it. You don't have to pay any other charges that you were not informed of.

For bulky goods (such as large household appliances or furniture), the trader must give you at least an estimate of the cost of returning your order. Bulky goods bought off-premises, such as by catalogue or from a door-to-door salesperson, and delivered to you immediately must always, however, be collected by the trader at their own expense.

Getting a refund

The trader must give you a refund within 14 days of receiving your cancellation request. However, they can delay refunding you if they haven't received the goods or evidence that you've returned them.

Your refund must include any shipping charges you paid when you made your purchase. However, the trader may charge you delivery costs if you specifically requested non-standard delivery (such as express delivery). 

FAQs

EU legislation

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