Online shopping: how to withdraw from a contract?

Recent years have dramatically changed the shopping behaviour of Czechs, who are now increasingly shopping online. During this time, even most of the hardened ones who had previously refused to do so have turned to e-shops. It is therefore good to remind ourselves how shopping online differs from shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. In particular, we will focus on the possibility of withdrawing from the contract.

ženy nakupuji na internetuu
6 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

Trust but verify

The somewhat anonymous online environment makes it easier for scammers whose goods actually look completely different from the picture, or worse, who don’t even have them and don’t intend to sell them. If you are not planning to shop at big, well-tested e-shops such as Alza, Datart, CZC or Mall, you’d better check that they are actually a reputable shop. This is worthwhile not only for the purchase itself, but also for any claims. For example, search engines such as Heureka or Zboží offer merchant reviews, or you can search further online for customer experiences, which also applies to purchases in China, where you should be even more cautious.

Safe shopping also includes reading the seller’s terms and conditions page. In particular, it is a good idea to look for information on payment options , delivery, returns and cancellation.

Tip: CTIA statistics indicate that 80% of the audited entities were found to have some kind of defect and the most frequent source of problems was commercial and warranty conditions. Whaterrors in e-shop terms and conditions do we encounter almost daily and what should you look out for? We have analysed the nine most typical ones in our separate article.

Have you got into trouble for shopping online?

We can help you with withdrawal from the contract or any other difficult situation. Within 24 hours we will propose a solution and its resulting price. The price for drafting a proposal is 390 CZK. And if you order the proposed services from us, you have the drafting of the proposal for free.

Transportation is charged

Delivering your coveted printer, T-shirt or book to your home or to the shop around the corner is very tempting, but of course it also comes at a cost. According to marketing research, Czechs are particularly attracted to not paying for shipping, which is why they often look for the magic formula “free shipping with purchases over …” So what if they end up buying a lot more stuff than they originally planned. Saving 70 or 80 CZK on DPD, PPL, Zásilkovna or Česká pošta services is worth it for them.

What I don’t like, I’ll return

One of the undeniable advantages of shopping online is that you can order goods from the warmth of your bed at midnight. But there is also one major disadvantage. You can’t try on your chosen trousers, try on the shower head or flick through the book before you buy. That’s why the law allows you to return most goods bought online without giving a reason. In this case, it is not a complaint, but a withdrawal from the contract.

You can withdraw from the contract within 14 days of receiving the item (and if the trader has not warned you of this right, then the period will be extended by another year). E-shops should inform customers of this possibility and offer a withdrawal form straight away. You can usually find this on the trader’s website, in some cases printed and attached directly to the parcel. But you can also use your own text.

You should then (or at the same time as) return the purchased item within 14 days at your own expense and the trader should also send you the money within 14 days. However, they don’t have to return it before the returned goods arrive.

Being able to withdraw from a contract is a big advantage of online shopping. While some bricks-and-mortar shops also offer it, they are certainly not obliged to do so. However, the customer should not abuse this advantage and make the e-shop a rental shop, using the goods for 14 days and then returning them.

On the other hand, the requirement of some shops to return the product to them in completely intact packaging is also (with a few exceptions) unrealistic. The 14-day period should be used for normal testing and inspection of the products and its eventual return to the shop without defects and in the original packaging.

The 14-day withdrawal period is for you to send in the withdrawal form. If it then takes up to 16 days after the purchase to reach the seller, for example, it doesn’t matter.

Can I return any item within 14 days?

The law exempts some products from this option. Typical products include:

  • perishable goods – for example, food,
  • goods that have been removed from their hygienic protective packaging – for example, sanitary, medical or sexual equipment,
  • customised goods – a wallet with your monogrammed name on it,
  • tickets for leisure activities – concert, theatre or cinema,
  • internet content (such as music, film or computer games) once you have downloaded it.

When do you not have consumer protection?

It would be easy to deduce from the question that you do not have consumer protection if you are not a consumer. That is, if you are buying as a business.

If you list your business ID number when you make a purchase, you can include it in your costs, but you lose most consumer benefits in return . In particular, you lose the option to cancel the contract within 14 days.

If you are buying “on business”, you definitely need to check the goods immediately after receipt. If you find any defects, bring them to the seller’s attention without delay. The seller is liable to the business for defects in the goods at the time of receipt. Of course, they can also appear later, but this is a little harder to prove.

Similarly, as an entrepreneur, you are in a worse position when it comes to claiming goods. As a rule, you cannot use the 24-month period for this purpose, but another period that the seller has set out in the terms and conditions. You should therefore read them properly and know your rights.

Tip: Withdrawal is one way to end a contract if the other party materially breaches it. You don’t need the other party’s consent, but the law only allows it in certain cases. In our article, you will learn not only which situations these are, but also how to withdraw from the contract and what you need to take into account.

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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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