Online retailers can avoid any potential ambiguities concerning the consumer’s right to cancel by providing their terms and conditions for the cancellation of a purchase in a clear and concise manner. Failing to provide these necessary terms and conditions can lead to a situation where the usual 14-day cancellation period for consumers is extended to a 12-month period, and the company may even be forced to assume responsibility for any return fees.
If a consumer is subject to any statutory cancellation rights for their online purchase, the online retailer must provide at least the following information before the conclusion of the purchase agreement:
1) Information on the time limits, terms and procedures concerning the exercise of the right to cancel. For example, the consumer must be informed of how they should announce their intention to cancel their purchase and the period within which this must be done.
- If the consumer is not informed of the terms, time limits and procedures concerning the exercise of the right to cancel, the cancellation period will end 12 months after the usual cancellation period has ended.
- If the company amends the deficient terms that were first presented to the consumer, the cancellation period will end 14 days after the date when the consumer was provided with said information.
2) Information on whether the consumer is required to pay for any return-related fees if they decide to cancel their purchase. If the items cannot be returned in the usual manner by post due to some special characteristic that applies to said items, the consumer must be informed of the cost of making a return.
The consumer cannot be obligated to pay for any return fees if the company neglected to provide the following information before the purchase was made:
- the consumer’s obligation to pay for the return fees of their item.
- the cost of the return if the items cannot be returned in the usual manner by post due to some special characteristic that applies to them. The company will have fulfilled this obligation if it has presented at least one carrier and one price for the return of the items.
Companies must be able to demonstrate that they have provided the necessary information
The terms, time limits and procedures concerning the exercise of the right to cancel must be provided or made available to consumers before the conclusion of any agreements, and these instructions must be provided in a clear and understandable manner.
In any uncertain situations, the company must be able to demonstrate that the necessary information has been provided or made available to consumers. Otherwise the company may become subject to further measures, such as the extension of the cancellation period to 12 months.
The information must be provided in a manner that prevents consumers from placing their orders until they either open and read the terms of the agreement that includes this advance information or deliberately skip reading them.
The company will also have fulfilled this obligation if, prior to the conclusion of any sales, the information concerning the right to cancel is made available to consumers or presented in a set of cancellation instructions that has been prepared in accordance with the template presented in the decree issued by the Ministry of Justice (the instructions on the website are currently available in Finnish and Swedish).
Companies must also inform consumers if they are not entitled to the right to cancel
A company may limit the consumer’s right to cancel their online purchase if there is a statutory reason for doing so, for example if the product has been designed or modified to the customer’s personal specifications.
If the consumer is not entitled to the right to cancel, they must be informed of this or the conditions that may cause them to forfeit their right to cancel before they place their order.
For more information on handling consumer relations
Familiarise yourself with the basics on the FCCA’s website:
Cancellation right in distance sales
Consumer legislation advice for businesses