Changed your mind about an Internet purchase?

Were you too impulsive when placing an online order? Or is the product you received in good condition but you don’t like it? In other words: do you want to cancel your purchase? In principle, if you bought the product from a European site, you have the right to cancel.Were you a little too impulsive putting your signature on an order form?

ECC Belgium provides answers to certain questions to enable you to exercise your right to cancel without any problem.

How long have I got to cancel a purchase and how do I go about it?

Do you want to cancel your purchase? You must do so within fourteen calendar days of the day of delivery of your order (for a product) or of entering into the agreement (for a service). If the seller did not notify you of your right to cancel when you placed the order, the cancellation period is extended by 12 months.

Notify the seller in writing of your decision to cancel the purchase. By e-mail, registered post or by completing a cancellation form. You are not obliged to indicate why you want to cancel your purchase.

When and how does the seller have to pay me back?

Have you notified the trader that you want to cancel the purchase? In that case, the trader will have fourteen days from the date of your notification to give you a full refund (including delivery costs and taxes). However, he is entitled to wait until he receives the returned parcel.

You can demand that the seller uses the same payment method as the one you used when placing the order.

When and how do I have to return the product?

Return the item within fourteen days once you have notified the seller of your decision to cancel the purchase. Four tips:

  1. Comply with any procedures imposed by the seller. Specifically ask for them.
  2. Check that the return address is correct: the head office and warehouse may be at different locations.
  3. Choose a secure dispatch method and retain any proof.
  4. Keep in mind that you bear the risks associated with returning the package. So pack your package well and take pictures of the product and its packaging before handing it over to the carrier.

Note: You will have to pay for the return shipment, unless the seller failed to inform you before you placed the order that you have to bear them.

What if the seller has not received your package?

  • Did the seller send you a return label or organize the return procedure himself? In this case, the seller has a contract with the transport service, and it is therefore up to him to turn to the carrier to initiate the necessary research. However, it is always in your best interest to take pictures of the product and packaging before handing it over to the carrier.
  • Did you choose the return method and the carrier yourself? In this case, it is your responsibility to contact the transport company to check the location of the returned package. If you are unable to find a solution with the carrier, you can appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman for the Postal Sector.

Am I entitled to try out a product and still return it?

You are entitled to try out and inspect your purchase to familiarise yourself with its properties and ensure that it is working correctly – similar to being in a shop. No more, no less. Otherwise, the seller is entitled to deduct any reduction in the value of the item from the refund.

What about my right of withdrawal if I used the service?

Unless you have made an express request to the contrary, the trader is not allowed to start the performance of services during the withdrawal period of fourteen days.

Had the trader provided a partial or full service without your approval during the cancellation period? In that case, you are entitled to exercise your right to cancel. The trader must not charge you for the service which he provided during the cancellation period without your approval.

Have you specifically authorised the trader to provide a partial or full service during the cancellation period? In that case, two scenarios are possible:

  • Did you use the full service during the cancellation period? Your right to cancel is void.
  • Was a partial service provided during the cancellation period? You retain the right to cancel the purchase. However, the seller is entitled to deduct the value of the service already provided from the refund.

When does my right to cancel not apply?

The right to cancel does not apply to all contracts entered into online. In the following cases, the right to cancel your purchase does not apply:

  • air, rail or sea travel bookings,
  • hotel and holiday accommodation bookings,
  • package travel bookings,
  • car rental,
  • restaurant bookings,
  • when booking tickets for concerts, shows, sports events, etc.,
  • personalised goods, such as made-to-measure clothing,
  • newspapers and magazines, unless it is a subscription,
  • sealed products if the seal has been broken following delivery, e.g. perfume, cosmetics, audio and video recordings and software,
  • perishable goods.

Note: Usually, you cannot cancel a digital product purchase (i.e. an e-book, an app for a smartphone or tablet, an online game, music or a film). Why? Because these products are used immediately, i.e. before expiry of the cancellation period.

However, the seller must:

  • specifically seek your permission to arrange delivery during the cancellation period for your digital purchase. Often, this will require you ticking a box.
  • explain to you that you will lose you right to cancel if you opt to have your digital purchase delivered during the cancellation period.

Has the seller not complied with one or both obligations? In that case, you will retain your right to cancel, even if you gained access to your digital purchase during the cancellation period.

Find answers to all your questions relating to your online purchases.