BUYING GOODS ABROAD

Our purpose is to assist consumers when making cross-border purchases within the EEA

BUYING GOODS IN EUROPE

It can be fun to do some shopping while abroad. The selection of goods on offer might be better than at home and some products might also be cheaper. Therefore it is good to know that consumers are in most cases protected by the same rules no matter where within the EU they chose to do their shopping. The disadvantage of shopping abroad is perhaps mainly that in case of a defective product it is a bit more difficult to go back to the store in Spain than it might be going to the corner store at home in order to complain. But this is where the ECC-Net steps in, assisting consumers when things go wrong.

When purchasing consumer goods from professional traders throughout the EU as well as Norway and Iceland consumers are protected by the Sale of Goods and Associated Guarantees Directive 99/44/EC.

This is a minimum rights directive so each country can go further in regards to consumer protection in national legislation. However there are certain rights that are always in place – no matter where in Europe you shop:
 

WHEN IS A PRODUCT DEFECTIVE?

The seller shall be liable to the consumer for any lack of conformity which exists at the time the goods were delivered.

Examples of defective goods:

  • Goods which are not fit for the purpose that such goods are normally designed for.
  • Goods which are not fit for the particular purpose they were bought for and for which purpose they were to be used, given this purpose was made known to the trader.
  • Goods which do not conform with the description or a sample handed out or shown. 
  • Goods that do not show the quality and performance which are normal in goods of the same type and which the consumer can reasonably expect.

WHAT RIGHTS DO CONSUMERS HAVE WHEN A PRODUCT IS DEFECTIVE

According to the EU-rules, consumers always have two years to complain about a defective product. In Iceland this period can sometimes go up to five years when it concerns goods the consumer can fairly expect to last longer (this would include cars, refrigerators, washing machines etcetera). However you need to complain to the trader without any undue delay after you notice the defect or else you might lose your right to have the fault remedied. The time limit for this can vary within the EU but member states may provide that, in order to benefit from his rights, the consumer must inform the seller of the lack of conformity within a period of two months from the date on which he detected such lack of conformity.
It is the consumer who must prove that a product is indeed defective. However, unless proved otherwise, any lack of conformity which becomes apparent within six months of delivery of the goods shall be presumed to have existed at the time of delivery unless this presumption is incompatible with the nature of the goods or the nature of the lack of conformity. So if a product brakes down within six months of delivery, it is assumed that the item was faulty at the time of delivery, unless the trader can prove otherwise or if the brake-down really isn´t due to a defect but more the nature of the product.

Further reading:

     Goods and Services
     ADR Bodies
     Know your rights

See also Frequently asked questions