More and more consumers are choosing to shop online, especially after the restrictions stemming from the pandemic. This increase has also translated into the appearance of more cases of Internet scams, claims for delays and fraudulent web pages.
According to an OCU survey, problems arise in 14% of online purchases: delays, delivery times and returns are the most frequent conflicts.
Every digital consumer has the right to claim when the purchase does not reach its destination, there are problems in the return of an item or even if the price paid was not the one indicated on the website.
Right to withdraw
Before entering into special requests, requirements, arbitration awards or lawsuits, it is important to bear in mind that when a remote purchase is made, you have 14 days to return the product if it is not satisfactory for any reason. This is known as the withdrawal period.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
The consumer can cancel the contract concluded, notifying the other contracting party, without the need to justify his decision and without penalty or expenses of any kind. That’s right, if the buyer resigns, the online store will be obliged to return the sums paid without withholding or undue delay.
The term to exercise the right to withdraw is 14 days, counting from the receipt of the good or the provision of services, although this possibility will be extended to twelve months if its existence is not reported in due time.
When the user or consumer wants to purchase a product or contract a specific service, they can do so with companies that are domiciled in Spain (or in another EU country), and therefore have the protection of national, regional and community or, on the contrary, resort to web pages located in third countries and adhere to the regulations of the country where the commercial operation is effectively carried out.
In any case, whether in Spain or abroad, the first thing to do is always try to solve the problem directly, through customer service. This will avoid claims, delays, disappointments and added expenses.
Shopping in Spain
If it is impossible to reach an agreement with the Spanish website, you may opt for a mediation procedure before the Municipal Consumer Information Officeor also resort to Consumer Arbitration Boards. Both processes are free and directly applicable to the conflict, that is, with the same legal consequence as a final judgment.
There are also different associations of consumers and users in each autonomous community, where they provide very useful advice for these cases.
If all these ways are unsuccessful, it only remains to resort to the judges through the filing of a lawsuit for breach of contract.
Shopping in the rest of Europe
If the buyer has a problem with a company from a country of the European Union, they can go to the European Consumer Center in Spain or also make their claim through the ODR (online dispute resolution) platform that resolves conflicts through the internet.
The European Consumer Center in Spain (CEC Spain) is a public office where they provide free information, assistance and advice on consumer matters. It is part of the ECC-Net network (European Consumer Centre-Network) made up of a total of twenty-nine European consumer centers from each of the twenty-seven member states of the European Union, Norway and Iceland.
The ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) platform is an online tool developed by the European Commission for the resolution of online disputes and whose purpose is to help consumers and merchants to resolve conflicts related to purchases of products and services contracted digitally. Entrepreneurs, merchants and platforms or markets that offer their products or services online in the European Union are required to include a clearly visible and easily accessible link to this platform on their website.
Purchases outside of Europe
Within the range of possibilities offered by the Internet, it is becoming more and more common to decide to buy from websites and companies in foreign countries that do not directly sell their products in Spain.
If the defective provision of the purchase or service occurs in a country that does not belong to the European Union, it is vital to try to solve it directly with your supplier, since legal and judicial differences complicate even more, if possible, the defense of your interests.
If there is no other choice and the need to claim persists, the user should go to the consumer agency of the country where the supplying company resides and seek advice on what their options are. There are several international organizations that develop and maintain regular contact with a large number of countries. For example, Econsumer.gov that allows managing electronic commerce complaints in more than 40 associated countries or ICPEN, the International Consumer Protection Network, which offers information on the competent national bodies.
It should also be remembered that, although the European Consumer Center only handles claims between member states, it also offers information on how to make a claim in a country outside the Union.
Finally, never forget that all purchases, including e-commerce purchases, if made to countries outside the European Union are imports and must go through customs procedures, as well as pay VAT and the corresponding tariffs.