Online Purchases during Lockdown and beyond
During Lockdown, a daily sight was the Courier Van seen delivering item after item to Irish households. But what happens when you are not happy with your purchase? What are your rights under Irish Law?
Under S.I. 484 / 2013 EU (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2003 a consumer can return an item purchased online from any Company based in the EU within 14 days of purchase. This is known as the consumer’s right to a cooling off period and the item can be returned within 14 days from the date of receiving the item, with no explanation required (provided that the item purchased was not personalized for the consumer by the Company).
Regulation 2 of the 2013 Regulations defines a ‘consumer’ as a natural person who is acting for purposes which are outside the person’s trade, business, craft or profession. Conversely, a ‘trader’ is a natural or legal person who is acting for purposes related to their trade, business or profession.
The 2013 Regulations provide that consumers have a ‘cooling-off period’ within which they can decide to cancel the contract. This period is 14 days from the date of conclusion of the contract, save for sales contracts, where the period begins when the consumer receives the goods. Consequently, a consumer must be reimbursed for the money paid if they gave notice to the Company within 14 days to the effect that they would like to cancel the contract. Should the consumer invoke their right of cancellation, they must return the item to the Company within 14 days, unless the Company agrees to collect it. Either way, the Company must reimburse the Consumer for their costs of returning the item (Regulation 20(2)).
If the Company resists any cancellation pursuant to the above regulations, the consumer can seek enforcement by way of District Court Proceedings (via the small claims procedure if less than €5,000) and also issue a complaint to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and to the European Consumer Centre.