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How do I claim for gifts delivered after Christmas?

We were contacted by Miss Denisa, who ordered Christmas gifts from one of the renowned eshops. The latter explicitly guaranteed in large print the trouble-free delivery of the gifts before Christmas. However, this did not happen.

Jak se bránit krachu slevového portálu?
3 minutes of reading

How do I claim this contract of sale? Can the customer demand anything more than a refund for a spoiled Christmas?

Anyone who buys online has the right to return goods without giving a reason and ask for a refund if they exercise this right within 14 days of receiving the goods. However, there are some situations where this right does not apply (e.g. buying food, custom-made items, or perhaps investment gold, the price of which is constantly changing).

In Denise’s case, however, the contract was a so-called fixed contract, i.e. a contract where the time of performance is precisely fixed and it follows from the contract or the nature of the matter that the creditor (the customer) can no longer have an interest in late performance. If I buy Christmas presents, it is obvious that after Christmas they are usually useless to me and Christmas is partly spoiled (especially if the presents are intended for small children).

So it is clear that Miss Denise is entitled to a refund no matter what she bought and how she bought it. But is she also entitled to something more?

If she was forced to buy the gifts elsewhere at a higher price, she should also be entitled to compensation for the damage thus incurred. For example, if she ordered a new tablet from an e-shop with a guarantee of delivery by Christmas but it did not arrive on Christmas Day and she bought a more expensive tablet from a bricks-and-mortar shop, the difference would be damages that she could claim.

Denise could also claim that the breach of contract infringed her personal rights and claim compensation for the non-pecuniary damage suffered by her family. There would be an analogy in the case of contracts with travel agencies. Under the new Civil Code, the organiser is expressly required to compensate the traveller for the loss of enjoyment of the holiday in addition to damage to property, in particular if the trip is cancelled or substantially curtailed.

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Finally, the new Civil Code also states that if the special circumstances in which the wrongdoer caused the injury by an unlawful act justify it, in particular if he or she has grossly negligently violated an important legal obligation or if he or she intentionally caused the injury out of a desire to destroy, harm or other particularly reprehensible motive, the wrongdoer shall also compensate for non-pecuniary damage to anyone who reasonably feels the injury caused as a personal misfortune that cannot otherwise be remedied.

It is only a matter of judicial interpretation whether “misfortune” can include “spoiling Christmas”. However, we recommend keeping written documentation and correspondence at least in email. However, Christmas is also about human solidarity, so we trust that a decent trader will face the matter head on and everything will be resolved without resorting to the law. Should this not be the case, we will be happy to help.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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