Most products sold by distance sales are subject to a 14-day cancellation period, within which the consumer may cancel the purchase for no particular reason. The cancellation period may be extended if the consumer has not been provided with information on the terms and conditions of cancellation or the fact that a purchase was subject to a charge.
If a consumer cancels the sales contract, then any credit, insurance or other agreement (e.g. installation agreement) related to it is also cancelled.
The way in which the 14-day period is calculated and the right to cancel are dependent on whether the purchase is related to physical goods, a service agreement or a digital service.
The 14-day cancellation period begins upon receipt of the goods ordered (or the final instalment of goods ordered). If the contract relates to regular deliveries of goods, the cancellation period is calculated from the receipt of the first instalment.
The cancellation right does not apply, among others, to:
- Sound or video recordings or software delivered in a sealed package, such as sealed CDs and DVDs, in which the seal has been broken.
- Products delivered in a sealed package which for health or hygiene reasons may not be returned after the package has been opened, such as contact lenses, moisturising creams or medications.
- Products manufactured or modified according to the consumer’s wishes or otherwise clearly made to correspond to the consumer’s individual needs, such as made-to-measure curtains or engraved jewellery.
- The loss of the right to cancel does not apply to products which are comparable to standard goods and whose modification by the consumer is only limited, such as a sofa whose colour and material the consumer chooses from a standard selection.
- The right to cancel is influenced by the question of whether the product is resellable without incurring a significant loss.
- Products that perish or expire quickly or that, due to their nature, have become inseparably mixed with other products after delivery, such as perishable groceries, heating oil or garden soil.
- Auctioned goods that the consumer is able to buy through a method other than distance selling, such as those acquired at public auctions that also permit physical attendance. For entirely online auctions, however, the consumer’s cancellation right applies.
- Deliveries of single newspaper, magazine or journal issues. In the case of subscriptions (ongoing or fixed-term), the consumer retains the right to cancel.
Usually, service agreements have cancellation rights as well. The 14-day cancellation period begins from the time at which the agreement was finalized.
Right of cancellation exists even if service provision began upon the consumer's request before the cancellation period ended. If service provision has begun and the service is subsequently cancelled, the consumer must pay the company reasonable compensation, calculated in proportion to the overall price of the agreement.
The consumer does not have to pay for services that have been completely or partially delivered during the cancellation period if the vendor started delivering the service during the period without the consumer’s permission, or if the vendor failed to inform the consumer of the terms of the cancellation right or of the compensation liabilities related to cancellation.
The cancellation right does not apply to:
- Services completed entirely at the consumer’s specific request, if the consumer was informed of the lack of a cancellation right. In the case of broadband or pay TV services, for example, the service is not completely delivered until the contract comes to an end. The service is not considered to be completely delivered when the connection for the service is made.
- Urgent repair or maintenance work carried out on the premises to which the vendor is summoned by the consumer (for example, if the consumer requests the repair of a leaking pipe in the consumer’s home).
- Accommodation services, such as hotel or cabin accommodation. A cancellation period for such services may, however, be specified in the terms and conditions of sale.
- Goods transports or car hire agreed for a specific period of time. A cancellation period for such services may, however, be specified in the terms and conditions of sale.
- Restaurant or leisure services agreed for a specific time. Leisure services include entertainment, culture or sporting events, courses related to leisure pursuits and equipment rental for leisure activities. A cancellation period for such services may, however, be specified in the terms and conditions of sale.
The 14-day cancellation period begins from the time at which the agreement concerning the digital content was finalised.
- The electronic delivery of digital content comprises the provision of data through digital download or streaming, for example in the form of software, applications, games, music, video (e.g. pay-per-view rights for sporting events) or text (e.g. the right to access a digital newspaper issue).
- The electronic delivery of digital content does not include the delivery of digital content on memory or storage devices such as a CD or DVD.
- The consumer is not liable to pay for a completely or partially completed service related to digital content when:
- the delivery of the digital content was started during the cancellation period without the prior agreement of the consumer.
- the consumer was not informed of the loss of the cancellation right.
- the consumer did not receive confirmation of the agreement that was made.
The consumer loses the right to cancel the purchase if the delivery of the digital content was started during the cancellation period with the consumer’s consent and the consumer was informed of the loss of the cancellation right.
Extension of cancellation period
The consumer’s right to cancel a purchase is extended by 12 months from the end of the ordinary cancellation period if the consumer was not informed of the terms related to the cancellation right. If the lack of information is corrected by the vendor, the cancellation period will end 14 days after the date on which the consumer received the corrected information.
The vendor must also ensure that the consumer accepts the payment liability related to the order. If necessary, the company must be able to prove that such acceptance was given by the consumer.
- If confirmation of the order requires the use of an online button or a similar function, the function must be marked with the words “This order includes a payment liability” or another similar expression. This may, for example, involve a display window placed right next to the order confirmation button which clearly and unambiguously indicates the products being ordered and all of the costs related to the order.
- The consumer has the right to cancel the purchase if the vendor has failed to ensure the consumer’s acceptance of the payment liability. The consumer must demand the cancellation of the purchase within 12 months of the order, and the vendor must return the payments received from the consumer within 30 days. The vendor must also compensate the customer for any costs incurred in returning the goods.