What is it?
If you sell over the Internet to consumers residing within the European Union, you have to offer them a right of withdrawal. This means that the buyer can return the item within a certain timeframe (at least 14 days) without giving any reasons. Generally speaking, the seller has to refund the full price of the item as well as the shipping costs to the buyer, unless the item is returned in a damaged condition.
According to the Distance Selling Regulations, consumers who purchase new or used goods from a business seller via the Internet have a 14-day (not 14 business days) right of withdrawal. The consumer has the right to withdraw from the purchase without giving any reason in order to return the delivered goods and to claim a full refund of the purchase price. This withdrawal period begins when the consumer has been informed about their right of withdrawal and the goods have been handed over to the consumer.
Who pays for return shipping?
In general, the buyer bears the return shipping costs if the seller informs the buyer accordingly. The seller may decide to bear the return shipping costs by choosing that option in the instructions on withdrawal and the structured fields.
Who is affected?
EU consumer protection laws are always applicable when a business seller sells to consumers residing in the EU, regardless of where he is operating his business (e.g. the US, China, Hong Kong, etc.).
On eBay, a business seller sells to consumers residing in the EU when he:
- Lists items on an eBay website directed at any EU country or
- Offers worldwide shipping and makes clear reference to customers residing within the EU (for example by the language of the listing and by mentioning special shipping rates to the EU, etc.).
If you do not sell your goods to consumers residing within the EU, these laws do not apply to you. You should take the following measures:
- Do not list your items on any eBay website directed at any EU country (including, for example, ebay.co.uk, ebay.de, ebay.fr, ebay.es, ebay.it, ebay.nl, ebay.be, ebay.ie, ebay.at, ebay.pl).
- When offering worldwide shipping, you should exclude shipping to EU countries in your listings by deselecting the corresponding shipping options in your listings. It is also advisable to add a disclaimer to your listings stating that you will not ship any items to customers within the EU.
When do I act as a business seller on eBay?
You typically act as a business seller, if you:
- buy goods to resell them on eBay
- sell goods which you have manufactured
- regularly sell large amounts of goods
- sell identical or similar items (especially new and unused items) over a longer period of time
- are an eBay sales agent
- buy goods for your company
Please note: depending on the legislation of a country, your activity may also be considered commercial in other cases, for example if you operate an eBay Store. Declaring yourself as a private seller, when you are acting as a business, is misleading to potential consumers and violates consumer protection laws and eBay policies.
What do you have to do?
In order to comply with the legal requirements, business sellers may use the return policy template provided by the legislator. Include the required text in the Return policy field of your listings. Please note that the text should be in the language of the EU eBay site you’re listing your items on.
You can use the return policy templates published on international eBay sites:
What you should bear in mind:
- You are legally obliged to give consumers the right to withdrawal but there is no legal obligation towards business buyers. However, you may give this right to business buyers as well if you want to do so.
- You may choose the timeframe for withdrawal: 14 days, 1 month or 60 days. Please ensure that the timeframe is consistent across the whole listing.
- You may choose who bears the return shipping costs and state it in your return policy. Please check that this information is consistent across all the fields of your listing.
What happens if I do not comply with the law?
Failure to comply with these legal obligations can result in costly warning letters and cease-and-desist claims from competitors and certain consumer protection agencies. It can also lead to court proceedings and penalties. Please be aware that eBay may take action against business sellers who do not comply with the law.