I shop online. What are my rights?
Today online shopping is part of my daily routine but what are my rights as a consumer and how can I protect them? It’s important not to forget that all the rules below concern only professional traders but not persons who sell personal belongings. So if I’m shopping at Ebay I can’t rely on the law to protect my rights. In such situation I’m completely dependent on the personal agreement I have with the seller.
So when shopping at big online shop at first place I have the right of information which the seller must provide me with. Before making the purchase I must receive information about the item and the selling company such as:
· the mailing address and the e-mail;
· the main characteristics of the item or the service;
· the price including taxes;
· the delivery charges;
· the duration of the offer;
· payment terms;
· the possibility to cancel the purchase.
I must be provided with the information no later than the delivery of the item itself.
Also without any obligation of extra payment I can cancel the purchase in 7 days of its receiving and return it to the seller. This is the so called period of reflection. In case the seller doesn’t provide the required information (including the right to cancel the purchase), my right is transformed into the possibility to return the item in 30 days. And I don’t even have to state a specified reason. But in such situation I have to cover the shipping costs. The seller must return the amount I have paid in 30 days and I have the obligation to keep the item in proper quality and quantity.
NB! This period of reflection isn’t relevant when purchasing tickets (train, plane, concert etc), making hotel reservation, renting a car and opened CDs with software, music or films.
If everything is fine, my delivery must be at home within 30 days of the purchase. If there’s a certain problem and the item is still missing after 30th day, I have the right of compensation. The seller must compensate me for the costs caused by the delay, again in 30 days.
I have to know as well that in EU it’s illegal to refuse sale to clients of any other member state. That doesn’t concern the shipping policy of the online shops. This rule is relevant when there’s available shipping to my country but the company still refuses the sale. Another thing to know is that in Bulgaria, my consumer rights are protected by the Consumer Protection Act. At European level it’s the Directive 97/7/EC/ which protects me as a consumer.
When shopping online with my credit card I can be absolutely sure, it`s number is protect by the law as a personal data. Still it’s recommended to always check the site where I shop and see if the address of the web page starts with https:// instead with the regular http://. This extra “s” is a sign indicating that the communication is encoded. However if I’m deceived in any way while shopping online, I must turn to my bank and notify them immediately in order to prevent possible abuse with my credit card number. My bank is also capable of restoring the previous state of my bank account. On the other hand if I don’t feel secure enough with the protection of my personal data, I can always turn to the Commission for personal data protection in Bulgaria.
The purchase made online is no different to any other offline purchase. This means that I can exercise my right of reclamation in case of problems. In case of any type of problems occurred when shopping online or even in case of violation of my consumer rights, I should firstly turn to the selling company directly. Usually the big online shops try to eliminate these kinds of problems.
Still if my problem is part of more complicated situation, I must turn to the Commission for consumer protection. I can also use the help of European consumer center to find the best solution for my case.
(*) The article aims to explain basic rights under Bulgarian law and it is not to be considered as a legal advisor. We strongly advise you to hire a lawyer, if you experience trouble understanding and using these rights. (*)
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§ Electronic Commerce Act