Sales over the internet
If the consumer decides to buy something over the internet, it is in his best interest to check who runs the internet store (the name of the seller, address, make sure that the owner is not in any kind of trouble with the government or law). Valuable information can also be found on the internet, where past buyers write reviews about their past experience with a certain internet sale.
Paying before you receive the product is recommended only if the buyer is certain that he is buying from a reliable seller.
If the customer pays for the product, but does not receive it and the seller is not communicating with him, the customer is allowed to search the internet for other customers that have similar problems and they may together put forward a complaint or join an already existing complaint and demand a refund. Alternatively, he may sign up his demand for insolvency proceedings (if the seller got himself into some kind of financial crisis). In some cases banks and providers of commercial and market portals can return the payment, provided the consumer makes a complaint in an agreed time limit.
The right to back out of the contract without giving a reason[Backing out of a contract is possible within a maximum 14 days after the contract has been signed over long distance or outside of the usual place of business]
In cases of contracts that were signed over long distance or in unusual places of business, the consumer has (not counting the following exceptions) the right to back out of the contract without giving a valid reason within a maximum of 14 days.
If the contract is not a contract of sale, the deadline starts when the contract is signed
In case of a contract of sale, the deadline starts the day the consumer picks up the product (for example, picking up the product at a post office)
In contracts whose subjects are a variety of products or different parts of a product (for example, the consumer orders a set of dishes, which will be delivered to him separately), the deadline starts when the consumer receives the last part.
On the other hand, in contracts the subject of which is a repeated delivery of the same product (for example, the consumer gets his pack of vitamins once every month), the deadline starts when the consumer receives his first delivery.
If the consumer wishes to step out of the contract, the deadline is cancelled, provided the consumer sends the seller an announcement that he is stepping out of the contract. While according to legislation effective until 31. 12. 2013, it was necessary to deliver the withdrawal notice directly to the seller, when dealing with contracts finalized since 1. 1. 2014, the customer only needs to prove that he sent the withdrawal notice before the deadline (by means of postal stamps on the sent letter, for example). It is therefore appropriate, for the consumer to have some evidence of timely withdrawal (e.g. a copy of a sent e-mail, post-office documentation etc.)
The customer of an internet shop on 4. 4. 2014 ordered a product, which was delivered to his home address on the 8. 4. 2014. From that day the 14-day withdrawal period starts and there is a chance to step out of the contract. If the consumer wishes to step out of the contract, he must send out his notification no later than 22. 4. 2014
The entrepreneur is obliged to inform the consumer about his right to step out of the contract. If the entrepreneur does not inform the consumer about this option, the deadline is extended to 1 year. That means that the consumer can step out of the contract 1 year and 14 days after the deadline started. If the consumer is instructed about his right to step out of the contract during this prolonged deadline, a new deadline starts on the day of his being instructed about his right. The new deadline lasts 14 days.
The consumer has bought a notebook online and received it from the postal services on 3. 4. 2014, without him being informed by the salesman beforehand about his right to withdraw from the contract (for example, in the terms and conditions of the online store). In such a case, the withdrawal deadline ends on 17. 4. 2015. If however, the salesman realizes his mistake and informs the customer about his rights after the fact, on 9. 6. 2014, the withdrawal deadline then ends on the 23. 6. 2014.
It is possible to step out of the contract that was agreed over the internet even before receiving the product. But it is necessary to let the entrepreneur know. Not accepting the product or not picking it up from the post office is not sufficient.
Otherwise, the entrepreneur could demand financial compensation from the consumer (because of the cost of keeping the product in storage, for example)
To limit the possible future risks, it is advisable to step out of the contract in writing, even in cases where legal provisions do not demand it.
A sample form for stepping out of a contract will be determined by government regulation No. 363/2013. Its provision to the consumer belongs to his informational duties that the entrepreneur must fulfill before a contract over long distance or outside of the usual place of business is signed.
If the entrepreneur makes it possible for the consumers to step out of the contract by filling out a form on his website, the entrepreneur will, without any delay, inform the consumer in text form when the form has been received by the entrepreneur.
Text form as a form of a document is in some cases defined in the civil code as the easiest method of communication between the consumer and the entrepreneur, so that all the important information would not have to be sent in writing (on paper). Text form is preserved, if the information that is being given can be saved and opened repeatedly (for example, the entrepreneur sends a file in a normal format by e-mail to the consumer, or he gives the consumer a CD with the file saved on it. The consumer can then repeatedly open these files on his PC.)
If a contract is being signed by electronic means, the consumer has the right to demand the contract with the general terms and conditions in text form from the entrepreneur (for example, the entrepreneur gives the consumer the right to download the terms and conditions in a pdf format or he will send it by e-mail.)
Return of goods and the purchase price after the withdrawal, transportation costs
If the consumer steps out of the contract, he should send or give back in person the products that he purchased from the entrepreneur, without any unnecessary delay, within a deadline of no longer than 14 days.
The entrepreneur is required to repay, without any unnecessary delay, any sum that the entrepreneur received for the returned product, including the delivery cost, within 14 days of withdrawal by the consumer. All these steps must be taken in the same way as the consumer took when buying this product.
The entrepreneur will return all the received funds to the costumer by other means, only if the consumer agrees to this and it does not incur additional costs to the consumer. But the entrepreneur does not have to return the received funds until the consumer returns the product in person, or until he proves that the product has been returned.
If the consumer chose a means of transportation of his ordered product other than the cheapest one, the entrepreneur will return the delivery cost for the cheapest delivery that the entrepreneur has to offer.
If the consumer decides to return the product without giving a reason within a period of no longer than 14 days, the consumer has the right to demand a full repayment of the product from the entrepreneur, including the delivery cost. The consumer will, however have to pay the postage for returning the product
The seller bears the costs of returning the goods, if the seller, before signing the contract, did not inform the consumer (for example, in the terms and conditions) about the fact that the consumer has to pay the cost of returning the product. The seller will also have to pay for the return of the product if the contract has been signed outside the usual place of business and if the product has been delivered to the consumer at the time of signing the contract, and the product is not suitable to be sent back to the seller through a post office.
Example no. 1: If the consumer pays for the product with a bank transfer, the entrepreneur has to return the funds in the same way, unless the consumer agrees to another way of receiving his refund.
Example no. 2: The consumer ordered a mobile phone for the price of 2,999 Czech Crowns. The seller had 2 ways of delivery to offer – through the Czech post office for 99 Czech crowns or by a private company for 129 Czech crowns. The consumer chose the more expensive one, so the consumer paid 3,128 Czech crowns altogether. When the product was delivered, the consumer found out that the product did not suit his needs, so he stepped out of the contract without giving a reason, the unused product was put back in the box and the consumer sent the product through a post office back to the seller, the consumer paid 89 Czech crowns for the post office delivery. The seller was then obliged to pay back 2,999 Czech crowns for the mobile phone and another 99 (because that is the price of the cheapest way of delivery that the seller had to offer), so the consumer got 3,098 Czech crowns from the seller.
Example no. 3: The consumer was visited in his home by a salesperson and the consumer bought a mattress for 49,900 Czech Crowns from the salesperson, and the mattress was immediately left in the consumer’s home. If the consumer decides to step out of the contract no longer than 14 days after receiving the mattress, he has the right to not only get his money back, but he can also demand that the salesperson should take the mattress back himself.
After receiving the returned product, the seller has the right to check the product if it has been damaged or used so much, that the quality of the product has lowered.
If the consumer is using the product within the deadline of 14 days after stepping out of the contract and then returns the product, the consumer can pay the expenses, that exist because the product was used too much, thus reducing its quality.
The entrepreneur can only demand money from the consumer, because the product´s quality was reduced, only if the entrepreneur told the consumer, before signing a contract, about the fact, that the consumer would have to pay for the products lowered quality if returned.
The consumer should always properly pack the product he wants to return, and choose a suitable way of transporting the product, otherwise the consumer may be liable for the damage that was done to the product during its transportation.
On the other hand, if the product was damaged on the way to the buyer, the seller is liable for damage to the product.
In order to prevent further disputes with the entrepreneur, it is advisable, for the consumer to check the goods immediately after receiving them, to find any possible defects, and upon finding any, to specify them in the goods hand-over protocol, which the deliveryman hands him to sign, and also to communicate his complaints to the selling party as soon as possible.
If the consumer tries out the goods in the usual manner, without there being any signs of wear and tear, he is entitled to a full refund, amounting to the buying price, and the entrepreneur cannot bill the consumer for any service charges in relation to the handling of the claim or their inspection.
If the consumer receives a shirt from an online shop, he can unpack it, try it on, see if it fits him, and consequently, if it doesn’t satisfy him, he can pack it up again and return it in its original state to the entrepreneur, who is then obliged to return the paid amount to the consumer.
The full amount doesn’t have to be returned, if for example, the consumer were to wear the shirt all day, and in so doing cause wear and tear or spillage, or in some way tailored it etc. Even in this case, the entrepreneur cannot fully refuse withdrawal from the contract on the part of the consumer. He can, however, demand that the consumer compensate for general expenses, associated with the restoration of the given product to its original state, or the amount which makes up the difference in the selling values of the shirt in its original condition and the used condition (seeing that he has to sell this shirt in its used state). The reduction of value must be appropriate and the amount is subject to discussion. If the parties do not reach an agreement, they can, for example, choose one of the extrajudicial ways of resolving the dispute.
Similarly, if the consumer buys a camera, for example, he can try out its functions after unpacking, but he cannot, however, use it for a week on holiday, otherwise he may not receive the full amount from the entrepreneur.
Contracts, without the possibility of withdrawal without stating a reason
The civil code classifies other types of contracts, apart from the ones already stated, from which the consumer cannot withdraw without giving a reason why, even though they were finalized by means of long-range communication devices, or outside of the usual commercial premises. These concern for example:
- Deliveries of goods or services, whose prices depend on the fluctuations of the financial market independently of the will of the entrepreneur, and which can fluctuate even during the withdrawal period (e.g. gold)
- Delivery of goods, that were tailored according to the wishes of the consumer (e.g. the consumer had bought trousers which he had shortened, he had his name engraved on his newly bought notebook),
- Deliveries of perishable goods (e.g. groceries, that go bad easily),
- Deliveries of goods, that were upon delivery irretrievably mixed with other goods (e.g. the customer bought some coal or wood for fuel and had it dumped on a pile, where he already had some, without the possibility of distinguishing the newly bought coal/wood from that already there.),
- Deliveries of goods enclosed in a package, which the consumer opened, and which cannot be returned due to hygienic reasons (e.g. antiperspirant, lipstick),
- Deliveries of audio or video recordings or computer programs, if the customer opened their original packaging (e.g. CD, DVD)
- Deliveries of newspapers, magazines or periodicals
- Accommodation, transportation, gastronomy, or free time usage, if the entrepreneur offers these services at a certain time (e.g. a telephonic reservation for a concrete time and appointment at a hairdresser),
- The delivery of digital content, if it has not been provided on a physical medium and has been delivered with previous express consent of the consumer before the expiration of the withdrawal deadline and the entrepreneur conveyed to the consumer prior to entering into the contract, that in such a case he has no right to withdraw from the contract (e.g. an antiviral program, which the consumer downloads from the internet, using a given password).
Be wary of goods, which due to hygienic reasons cannot be used by another customer. Such goods cannot be returned without stating a reason.
The above stated regulations concerning withdrawal will also not be used for contracts listed in § 1840 of the civil code as these are governed by special legislation – e.g. providing social and healthcare services, renting a flat, gambling, wagers, games, lotteries, construction of a new building, home deliveries of food and beverages, transportation tickets, contracts finalized by means of a vending machine etc.
Withdrawal from contracts for services rendered
It is possible to buy not only goods, but also services, by means of long distance communication or by contracts closed outside of usual business premises.
The consumer orders gardening services at an online gardening store, for regular upkeep of his garden in front of his family house.
A sales representative shows up at the consumer’s house and enters into contract with him, concerning energies, internet services, telecommunication services and so on.
Even if the customer is persuaded by the sales representative to sign the contract, without him reading it comprehensively and weighing his options properly, all may not yet be lost. In these cases, the consumer has the right to withdraw from the contract without stating a reason within the 14 day deadline period, starting from the day the service has been ordered.
When entering into service contracts, it is necessary for the consumer to consider, whether he wants the service to start right away, or after the 14 day withdrawal deadline.
If the entrepreneur, acknowledging expressly stated consumer consent, which has to be stated in writing, started providing the service before the aforementioned deadline had passed (e.g. the garden workers arrive, at the customer’s request, the very next day after the order had been placed), the outcome depends on whether the entrepreneur informed the consumer prior to closing the deal, that in such a case he will not have the right of withdrawal. If he did inform him, the consumer’s right to withdraw is forfeit the moment the service starts being provided. If he didn’t inform the consumer, the right of withdrawal is not ruled out completely but the consumer is however obliged to refund the entrepreneur for the proportionate amount of services already rendered, which should amount to the usual market value of the given service (e.g. the customer will pay for one mowing of the lawn, that happened before he withdrew from the contract).
Special legislation further increases customer’s rights concerning several types of services (e.g. energy providing, telecommunication services), and that applies to not only contracts finalized long distance or outside usual premises, but also to services provided in usual business premises (see chapters 8 and 9)
Long range financial service contracts
If the consumer enters into contract concerning financial services (i.e. he opens a new bank account, negotiates a loan or insurance, or exchanges currency) by means of long range communication devices (i.e. online or by phone), the civil code provides him with further protection, according to special legislation § 1841 to § 1851, than if he were to, say, go to the bank personally.
Apart from a plethora of informational duties, which the entrepreneur has to fulfill, the consumer has a right to withdraw from the contract, specifically within the 14 day deadline, from the finalization of the contract, or from the moment of conveying the required information, if they were communicated after the deal had been finalized. Life insurance contracts or supplemental pension insurance contracts are covered by a 30 day deadline, starting from the moment the customer was informed about the finalization of the contract. If the entrepreneur provides the customer with false information, the customer then has the right to withdraw from the contract for a period of up to 3 months, starting from the moment he learned about this, or when he could and should have.
It is impossible to withdraw from contracts:
- Concerning financial services dependent on financial market fluctuations independent of the will of the provider (e.g. buying stock),
- Concerning travel insurance, baggage insurance or any similar short term insurances with the insurance time shorter than one month.
It is impossible to withdraw from an insurance contract, which covers less than a month.
If the consumer withdraws from the contract, the entrepreneur may demand the payment equaling to the proportionate amount of services rendered, and even then only in the case, that the consumer was informed beforehand and that he agreed with the provision of the services before the deadline for withdrawal is up. Similarly, the entrepreneur, 30 days at the latest after the withdrawal, has to return all funds, which he accepted from the consumer upon the basis of the contract.