Right of withdrawal: shipping costs for online purchases
The pandemic has meant, among other things, a clear increase of e-commerce transactions in Spain, which has also led to an increase in incidents related to the rights that current regulations grant to consumers. One of the main rights when a consumer shops online is the so-called right of withdrawal.
Managing the right of withdrawal (return) can be an added headache for e-commerce sites that offer goods or services to consumers (B2C).
Some time ago, we wanted to explain the difference between the right of withdrawal and guarantees, but now we want to focus on an aspect that often creates confusion: what happens to the shipping and return costs if a customer exercises their right of withdrawal?
The right of withdrawal applies in the following cases:
- When an online transaction is made.
- When the buyer is a consumer (this also includes legal entities that are buying for a purpose other than that of their business activity).
- When none of the exceptions to the right of withdrawal are applied (art. 103 Consumer and User Defence Law).
If these cases occur, the customer has the right to return what they have purchased or to waive the services within 14 days of receipt of the product or contracting of the service.
Let’s focus here only on products, since these have two more costs associated with them apart from the value of the purchased product itself: the shipping costs that the consumer may have paid to have the product shipped to them and the return costs in the warehouse or in the establishment of the trade. We want to focus on these points.
Art. 107.1 of the Consumer Protection Law is clear in the sense that the employer must refund the consumer, once the returned product has been received at the indicated point, the amount of the product plus shipping costs. Therefore, if the consumer has paid €100 for a product and €3 in shipping costs, they will have to receive a total of €103, using the same method used to make the purchase.
Exception: it is important to highlight here a significant exception that might occur if the consumer, with different shipping options available at the time of purchase, had not selected the least expensive one. In this case, the trade could withhold the difference between the method selected by the consumer and the least expensive one.
The main obligation of the consumer when exercising the right of withdrawal is to return the product within 14 days as of when the desire to exercise this right is indicated. Sometimes, this may cause costs associated with the return of this product to the warehouse or establishment of the trade.
In this case, the law is also clear insofar as it will be the consumer who assumes these costs, unless the commerce has offered to collect the product or, importantly, if the trader has not informed the consumer that, in the purchase process, it is up to them to pay for these costs.
The knowledge and practical application of these rules and their clear inclusion in the Purchase Conditions of e-commerce websites can avoid problems with consumers and, ultimately, fines from the competent public administrations related to consumption which, on some occasions, act without complaints from consumers.
It is therefore important for you to explain the right of withdrawal in your terms of purchase, that it is very clear what you will and will not return and under which conditions, and that you provide a form to exercise this right. In terms of consumption, it is not enough for things to simply be done well in practice, but your Purchase Conditions clearly must reflect what the regulations indicate.
If you have an ecommerce and do you want to know more about how to apply these rights on your website, contact us!
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