Cancellation of purchase

Right to return goods

Buying a product creates a contractual relationship between the buyer and the vendor which may not be changed unilaterally by either party. In other words, the purchase may not usually be cancelled if you change your mind.

Purchases may only be returned or exchanged when:

  • the company has granted a right to return or exchange the goods. This is granted voluntarily by the company, so the company is free to set the terms and conditions (for example, that goods may be returned or exchanged within 8 or 30 days). The company may demand proof of purchase in relation to the right being used.

If the company does not provide such a (voluntary) right of return or exchange and the consumer is uncertain about the purchase, a “sale on approval” may be proposed. In a sale on approval, the vendor grants the buyer the right to return or exchange the goods by a certain date. If the vendor agrees to a sale on approval, the terms and conditions

  • the purchase was made through door-to-door sales or distance selling (by telephone, mail order, online store or TV shopping), in which the consumer is granted a 14-day cancellation right by law. There are limitations to cancellation in distance sales, so make sure you read all the terms and conditions carefully. For example, the cancellation right does not apply to products made to measure according to the customer’s wishes, or to sound or video recordings or computer software on which the seal is broken.

If no agreement has been made on returns of faultless goods prior to the completion of the purchase and the company agrees to accept a return, the company may be entitled to demand a reasonable cancellation fee.
Distance sales
Door-to-door sales
Defects and delays

Cancelling an order

Orders of goods may be cancelled if the products ordered have not yet been delivered. Such a cancellation constitutes a breach of contract, however, and the vendor may be entitled to compensation.

The terms and conditions of contract may specify the compensation to be paid by the consumer for cancelling an order prior to delivery of the goods or for cancelling a service during the validity of the contract.

The compensation must be reasonable, however, and correspond to the actual costs incurred by the vendor in the specific case. The calculation of a reasonable level of compensation is affected, for example, by the level of personalisation of the product, the extent to which its production has progressed, the time at which the cancellation was made, the actual costs incurred by the vendor and the vendor’s loss of income.
Receiving an invoice without placing an order

Cancelling the provision of a service

The consumer may cancel the provision of a service that has been faultlessly provided prior to its completion, but in this case the company must be paid for the work completed up to that point and compensated for breach of contract. If a consumer cancels the faultless provision of a service prior to its completion, the company must be paid:

  • for the work completed up to that point, according to the agreed prices.
  • for the cost of interrupting the work (e.g. the cost of removing a car from a garage or transporting tools and materials).
  • for purchases of materials that the company is unable to use elsewhere.
  • reasonable compensation for loss of income.

If the consumer has a justifiable reason to assume that the work will not be faultlessly completed, the consumer is entitled to interrupt the work and cancel the contract. The justifiable reason may, for example, be that the work completed up to that point has been done so badly that the end result can also be expected to be seriously defective. In this case, the contract may be cancelled from that point onward and the company must be paid for any work completed faultlessly up to that point.
Defects and delays

Updated 27.10.2014 Print

Guidelines

The Consumer Ombudsman's Guidelines contain information on the application of provisions.