The new revocability rules

From 13.06.2014, new legal regulations apply for distance (online trade) and door-to-door selling. We have compiled the most important changes.

What does revocability mean?

You may revoke contracts unilaterally, without notice and for any reason. This is mostly possible with businesses with which you have suddenly or hastily agreed an order or had no opportunity to check the product beforehand. Distance contracts (e.g. telephone, postal or online sales) and transactions outside the enterprise (so-called door-to-door sales) may be revoked.

Consequences of revocation

If you give notice of revocation in time, the contract is canceled. Both you and the trader will no longer be bound by the contract. As a purchaser, you must send the received goods back within 14 days. The trader may retain the purchase price until the goods have been received by them or if you can at least present a proof of the dispatch.

Form of revocation

From 13.06.2014, new legal regulations apply for distance (online trade) and door-to-door selling. The most important changes for you as a customer concern revocation law and information obligations. You must now give express notice of your revocation in writing, by email, by fax or by telephone. Sending the goods back to the trader without notice is no longer sufficient!

You may also give notice of revocation by telephone. In order to be able to prove the revocation however, it is recommended that you use e-mail, fax or a registered letter with return receipt requested. Traders are obliged to provide you with a revocation form on the internet, by e-mail or in the product package. If you fill this out and include your personal details, the revocation is effective.

Revocation instructions

For distance selling, companies are legally required to inform you whether and how you can exercise the right of withdrawal before the conclusion of the contract. The instructions must contain the following information:

  • Information on conditions, time periods and the revocation process as well as a specimen revocation form.
  • Information on the costs for the return delivery of the goods
  • and, if appropriate, information on the payment by the purchaser to the trader as value replacement for a loss in value of the product

The traders can also apply revocation instructions for all Europe, which must be provided to you in writing before the conclusion of the contract. If the trader uses the legal specimen revocation instructions and sends them to you "in text form”, e.g. by post, fax or e-Mail, you can usually assume that this is in order.

Specimen revocation form

Before concluding the contract,the business must, provide information for the specimen revocation form in a clear and comprehendible form, be it by mail, fax or e-mail. It is up to you whether you use the specimen revocation form or revoke in another manner (e.g. by email). They businesses may also make it possible for you to fill in the revocation form on their website and to send it online. If you use the online form, the trader must immediately confirm its receipt.

It is advisable to use the specimen form and send it in a verifiable manner.

The time period

A revocation period of 14 days now applies across the European Union. The period begins in principle with the conclusion of the contract. However, with distance selling contracts, it begins with the delivery of the product (e.g. the delivery of a SIM card). The revocation period depends on the day on which you sent the declaration and not on the day the declaration is received by the business. For the beginning of the period, it is also assumed that the trader has correctly informed you of their right of revocation. Unlike before, the revocation period expires in all cases after 12 months and 14 days after the proper start of the withdrawal period. This means that an unlimited right of revocation does not exist, even in the event of incorrect or incorrect information.

In the market checks on country-specific rates carried out by the project, the revocation information and forms for cellphone contracts of some telecommunications businesses were examined. It was found that some companies are using erroneous teachings or withdrawal forms. These contracts are therefore revocable. If you want to be sure, you can check this with consumer protection agencies.

Suspension and termination of the right of revocation

Not all contracts in e-commerce and distance-selling transactions can be revoked. In the case of the purchase of digital content (e.g. the downloading of music, videos, streaming, apps, e-books, online games), the right of revocation expires if the business has commenced the service and the consumer has given express agreement.

The trader must gain express agreement from you as a purchaser before the start of the download. Consent for the start of the service and the confirmation of this information must be clear and must not be mixed with other confirmations, e.g. the confirmation of knowledge of terms and conditions or the rights of revocation. Pre-crossed boxes are therefore not permitted.
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