The possibility of returning goods is an issue that often arises in relations with consumers. Remember that if the purchase was made in a stationary store, the seller is not obliged to accept the return of goods just because the customer has made a mistake. This, of course, applies to goods without defects. Some retailers allow you to return goods within a certain period of time and under certain conditions - but this is due to their sales policy and not to legal obligations.
The situation is different when the goods are purchased remotely, e.g. via the Internet or outside the premises of the company (e.g. during an external show). In such cases, the consumer may withdraw from the contract within 14 days without giving reasons. He is also obliged to return the goods within the next 14 days.
The seller is obliged to return to the consumer all payments made by him, including the costs of delivery of the goods, immediately, not later than within 14 days from the date of receipt of the statement of withdrawal from the contract.
There are cases where the right of withdrawal may be restricted. This applies, inter alia, to the following situations:
- the price or remuneration depends on fluctuations in the financial market over which the seller has no influence (e.g. participation in currency exchanges)
- the subject of the service is a product manufactured to the consumer's specifications or to meet his or her personalised needs
- the subject of the service is perishable goods (e.g. food purchased in an online store)
- the subject of the service is goods delivered in sealed packaging, which cannot be returned after opening - for health or hygiene reasons
- the subject of the service is audio or visual recordings or computer programs delivered in a sealed package, if the package has been opened after delivery (e.g. purchase of a new game).
All situations are listed in the Consumer Rights Act
It is also important to inform the consumer about the possibility of a return. If you do not do so, the right of withdrawal is extended to a maximum of 12 months.
Who bears the cost of delivery of the returned goods
If your customer, who has purchased goods e.g. via the Internet, decides to return them, you should be aware of the rules for reimbursement of delivery costs. In case of withdrawal from the contract you are obliged to return all payments made by the customer, including delivery costs, immediately, not later than within 14 calendar days from the date of receipt of the customer's declaration of withdrawal from the contract. What is important, you only return the costs of the cheapest, standard shipping method available in your offer. If the customer ordered for example more expensive transport by courier instead of registered delivery, you reimburse the customer as for registered delivery. Personal collection is not taken into account here, of course, because it is not a method of delivery of goods.
On the other hand, the customer bears the cost of returning the goods (packaging, securing) to you after withdrawal from the contract. However, he may be exempted from these costs if you agree to bear them or if you did not inform the customer about the necessity to bear them before concluding the contract. If you have sold goods outside the company's premises (e.g. at a show), you must always indicate to the consumer which costs associated with the return of the goods will have to be borne in case of withdrawal from the contract. On the other hand, if you sell online, you should provide information about the costs of the return if the item cannot be sent back by post due to its nature (e.g. size). If you do not inform the customer about this, you will also have to pay for the transport of the returned parcel.
Receipt of goods from the customer
Remember that in some cases you will be obliged to collect the goods from the customer. This applies if the following conditions are (cumulatively) met:
- the contract (e.g. sale) was concluded away from business premises (e.g. at a show);
- the goods have been delivered to the buyer at his place of residence;
- the nature of the goods does not allow them to be sent back to the trader in the usual way by post (e.g. large size of the item or its complicated dismantling).
If the customer wishes to withdraw from the contract, but used the purchased goods (in a way that goes beyond a simple check), you can charge the customer with additional costs due to the reduction in the value of the goods. You will not have this right if you do not inform the customer about the possibility and method of withdrawing from the contract.
If the customer wishes to withdraw from the service contract and the performance of the service, at his express request, has commenced before the expiry of the withdrawal period, he is obliged to pay for the services provided up to the time of withdrawal. The amount of payment shall be calculated in proportion to the scope of performance, taking into account the price or remuneration agreed in the contract.
In case of justified complaints, it is you who cover the transport costs.