An increasing number of people are choosing to shop online, even with foreign online traders. Not only is online shopping convenient and simple, it can be carried out at any time. Its primary advantages also include a more varied selection of products and lower prices than those offered by local trader. Considering that, in such cases, consumers do not have direct contact with the trader and they cannot inspect the goods prior to purchase, it is important for consumers to be aware of their rights and be familiar with areas where special attention should be paid to when shopping online.
Verify sellers and read the general terms and conditions
Make sure that the trader's name and contact information are published on the website. The website domain does not necessarily mean that a company has registered offices in Germany, so check on its website where the actual registered offices of the company are located. If information is not accessible or clear, opt to make your purchase with a different trader. You may verify the online trader on the website www.scamadviser.com. Pay special attention to websites that have been set up recently, as this may also be a sign of fraud. You may find information concerning the time and place of the registration of a website at http://whois.domaintools.com/. Also check trustmarks. These may indicate that an online trader undertook to follow the rules within the Trustmark system. Because there are also falsified trustmarks, we advise to always click on the mark to verify whether an online trader is actually the holder of a trustmark or whether this is merely an image posted on the website. You may also search for the experiences of other consumers online who have already made purchases from a specific trader. Be advised that the author of positive comments that appear on the company's website may also be the trader himself, despite the impression that these are true consumers with a name, surname, or even a photograph.
Always carefully ready the general terms and conditions and pay attention to small print because it is important to know what you are agreeing to prior to entering into a purchase agreement. Pay special attention to the provisions regarding the withdrawal from the agreement and the return of goods. We recommend that you print or save these general terms and conditions prior to submitting your order. During the ordering procedure, make screenshots, so that all phases of the ordering procedures are archived. Save the copies of the order confirmation, invoices, e-mails or any other correspondence with the company, together with screenshots, in the event that anything unusual might occur. All of this may prove useful later.
Use safe means of payment
If online trader expressly require a transfer via systems, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, and do not provide any other method of payment, be careful, as these are payment systems intended for the transfer of money between natural entities and they do not enable the tracing of the recipient of the remittance, thus making these systems popular among online scammers. Credit card payment is indeed one of the safest manners of payment in online shops; however, be careful to transact your payment by means of an encrypted transfer. When paying with a credit card, check whether there is an option of payment return to a credit card, so-called “chargeback.” Prepaid cards, on which you may put as much money as required, as well as online payment systems, such as PayPal, are also considered to be safe methods of payment for online purchases. They act as payment intermediaries, so the number of your credit card does not need to be entered, and a refund is also enabled under certain conditions in the event that goods have not been received.
Right to obtain information – prior to and after a purchase
The trader must provide the following information on the website:
- Company name, registered offices, phone number, and the address where business activities are actually performed,
- main characteristics of the goods or services,
- the final price of the goods or services, including taxes,
- transportation, delivery, and shipping costs,
- terms of payment, terms of delivery, and terms of the performance of the service, delivery date and the date of the performance of the service, if applicable,
- information on the right to withdraw from the contract and on any exceptions,
- reminder of the existence of a legal guarantee of conformity for goods,
- minimum duration of the consumers' obligations under the contract, if applicable.
The company must ensure that you expressly confirm during the ordering procedure that, by submitting your order, you agree with the payment. If the company fails to do so, you shall not be bound by the contract or the order.
After your purchase has been made, the trader shall provide you with a written confirmation concerning the contact entered into and information on the terms and conditions, deadlines, and the procedure for enforcing your right to withdraw from the contact. The seller shall expressly inform you that, in the event that you withdraw from the contact, you shall cover the costs of the return of goods yourselves, and he shall also warn you of your liability for the reduced value of the returned goods. Furthermore, trader shall provide information on the conditions related to the withdrawal from the contact that has been entered into for an unspecified period of time or for a period of time shorter than one year.
The right to withdraw from the contact within 14 days of the delivery of goods
If you withdraw from the contact, you shall return the goods to the trader, who shall in turn reimburse you for all of your payments. This option exists because, prior to purchasing them online, the goods may not be inspected or verified like in a shop. Reasons for withdrawing from the contact do not need to be provided; the only costs that you may need to cover is the cost of the return of goods, provided that the trader clearly informs you of this obligation in advance. The trader shall also inform you of your right to withdraw from the contact; if he fails to do so, the period of notice for withdrawing from the contact shall be extended to one year. However, the right to withdraw from the contract shall not apply when hiring a car, with services related to leisure activities, or with custom-made goods, etc.
What if the goods have not been delivered?
After entering into the contract, if not specified otherwise in the contact, the trader shall deliver the goods or perform the service as soon as possible, but at the latest within 30 days of entering into the agreement. If the company fails to meet its obligation within the agreed upon deadline, the consumer shall determine a suitable additional deadline for fulfilling the contract. Keep any supporting documentation concerning the definition of the additional deadline. If the trader still fails to deliver the goods or perform the services, you shall have the right to withdraw from the contact. If the agreed upon deadline is an essential integral part of the contact, you may withdraw from the contact after the agreed upon or statutory deadline for fulfilling the contact has expired, without defining an additional deadline for fulfillment. In the event of a withdrawal from the contract, the company shall immediately reimburse you for all of your payments. If the trader fails to do so and if the trader has registered offices in Slovenia, you may file a complaint at the Market Inspectorate of the Republic of Slovenia, which will issue a decision, by means of which it will order the company to fulfill its legal obligations.
In the event of a purchase from a trader in another EU member state, where such options do not exist, contact your bank or turn to the online payment system, by means of which you paid for the goods, and enquire concerning reimbursement options. Be careful to ask for a refund in a timely manner.
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