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How to defend yourself against a discount portal crash?

The discount portal Nakupvakci.cz ceased its activity on 13 December 2016. It probably left behind thousands of customers who hold vouchers for gifts or services and do not know whether they will receive anything for them.

Jak se bránit krachu slevového portálu?
4 minutes of reading

Reportedly, they are already bumping into individual providers. What are their options, and what options are available to providers who have not received any payment from the discount portal for the vouchers issued?

Today, the website nakupvakci.cz has a notice of its operator filing for insolvency proceedings. The reason for this is the failure of the business, where the alleged loss over 6 years of operation has reached a cumulative 45 million. CZK. According to the owner of the website, the insolvency has led to threats from service providers, some of whom “send Russians to the company to squeeze out the money owed”.

I have a “voucher” in my hand, so am I entitled to the service?

Under the tree you may find an envelope with a voucher, or a coupon for a trip, a relaxing stay or a choice meal at a restaurant. Only then are you horrified to discover that the discount portal is no longer in operation and is preparing for insolvency.

The basic legal question here is with whom and when the client, i.e. the consumer, entered into the contract for the provision of the service. Who must therefore provide or compensate him. Nakupvakci.cz claims in its terms and conditions that it only mediates the delivery of goods or the provision of services. It does not sell or provide anything itself. In fact, it acts as an agent of the provider, which offers its services to customers, ordinary consumers, through it.

The consumer’s order is, according to this construction, a proposal to conclude a contract. The contract itself, for example, for the purchase of a tour, is then concluded at the moment of delivery of the provider’s binding agreement to the consumer’s proposal. The provider delivers the consent to the consumer by e-mail via nakupvakci.cz. This is the delivery of the voucher. The contract is thus concluded.

According to this interpretation, the consumer is therefore entitled to demand the provision of the service from the hotel, restaurant or e-shop even after the intermediary (nakupvakci.cz) has gone bust.

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Can the provider defend the provision of the service or goods?

Each of the providers probably has a clear contract with the operator of the discount portal (nakupvakci.cz), which defines their mutual rights and obligations. Without knowledge of these specific contracts, which also address the liability of the parties and the allocation of the purchase price for the service, it is not possible to define the provider’s liability precisely.

In general, he can claim that he never confirmed the service and that the discount portal did not have the mandate to represent him in his dealings with the client and to confirm pending services on his behalf. Indeed, it is conceivable that the provider has long since terminated its cooperation with the portal and that the latter has nevertheless continued to offer and collect for its services. If he has to provide a service even though he has not received payment for it, he must claim damages from the discount portal and declare himself insolvent.

So how to proceed?

The safest course of action is not to wait for anything and to have the contract (i.e. the voucher) confirmed directly by the provider as soon as possible. For example, an e-mail will suffice. In the event of the discount portal going bust, the client does not have to worry about losing his money automatically. It is advisable to redeem the voucher immediately after purchase.

If the client has a validated voucher, i.e. has clearly concluded a service contract directly with the provider, he should definitely not be intimidated or discouraged by an unwilling approach. He is entitled to the service or goods or to a refund directly from the provider.

The fact that the provider may not yet have actually been paid by the discount portal is another matter and his problem. He can claim the money from the discount portal operator in court, but this is outside the client’s scope.

If the client does not have a clearly confirmed voucher, he can still succeed in his negotiations with the provider if the mediation construction prevails. However, it may be better to file a claim in insolvency proceedings and also file a criminal complaint for fraud on the part of the discount portal, just to be on the safe side.

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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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