Shopping online, by telemarketing or mail order
Online shops, mail order and telemarketing are forms of distance selling. If the order has been placed remotely, the transaction is considered distance selling even if the consumer personally collects the items from a shop.
Always check that everything is in order with the online shop operating in Finland or abroad. Examine the shop’s website. Read what it said about the company and the products it sells. Incomplete contact information, exceptionally high discounts and mistakes in language on a website can be signs of a scam.
Find out information about
- the terms of the transaction
- methods and costs of delivery
- terms and methods of payment
- the total price of the product.
You can also find information about the company online. This allows you to see whether consumers have written about their experiences of good or bad operations by the company on message boards.
As a rule, there is a 14-day right to return goods purchased from distance selling. Some online companies may offer an even longer right of return.
Examples of exceptional situations:
- When you return a sealed audio or visual recording or a computer program, the seal must be intact. Also, the terms for returning made-to-measure products ordered via distance selling are not the same as the terms for returning regular manufactured goods. For example, an item of clothing made according to your measurements is a made-to-measure product.
- The cancellation period of accommodation services such as hotel or cottage reservations may also vary and the period has been recorded in the terms and conditions of agreement. Different cancellation terms may also apply to a restaurant service or a free-time service that has been agreed for a specific time and date. Free-time services include activities such as entertainment, cultural and sporting events, hobby courses and equipment rental for hobbies.
- You cannot return an item that you download electronically or cancel the purchase after you have downloaded the product on your computer even if the cancellation period has not yet ended. The seller must, however, notify you in advance that you have no right to cancel the purchase.
You must file a cancellation notice with the seller within 14 days since you have made an agreement or received the item. You can file the notice with the company’s own online form, or freely in your own words by e-mail or telephone.
You are not required to give reasons for wanting to cancel the purchase to the seller. You may fill out and submit the cancellation notice already before receiving the product.
You cannot simply cancel a purchase by not picking up the parcel from a post office or pick-up point. If you send back a product you have purchased from distance selling to the seller without a clear cancellation notification, the seller is not required to accept the return.
Find out what the terms for returns are already before ordering a product. You must typically personally pay for the return costs of a product. The company will pay the return costs if it has informed that it will do so.
If the seller provides no information about who will pay for the return costs on its website or anywhere else in connection with the payment, the seller is responsible for paying for these costs.
Some companies provide their customers with an opportunity for exchanging a product they have ordered. For example, if you bought an item of clothing that is the wrong size, you may exchange it for one that fits if this is stated on the terms of purchase. The right of exchange is not automatically valid and not used in all shops.
The safest method of payment involves paying an invoice after the product has arrived. However, you usually have to pay for items you purchase online and otherwise already when placing the order. If you must pay in advance, it is safest to pay with a credit card. In this case, your credit card company is partly responsible for the purchase. If the seller fails to deliver the product and return your money, you may demand the trade price from a credit card company.
When paying with a credit card, the payer must make sure that the seller is appropriate and will not misuse the provided credit card information. Verify that the seller provides secure access. You know this by the code https:// used in front of the online address. An image of an intact key or lock on your browser also indicates that the connection is secure. However, be careful because the lock icon or the https:// at the beginning of the address do not necessarily guarantee the reliability or authenticity of the web page. Data encryption can also be used for scamming purposes. Never send your credit card number by e-mail.
Always store and keep order confirmations and other messages you receive from the company. Check that you have been charged the correct amount on your credit card bill statement.
In principle, similar rules apply to the online shops operating in the countries in the European Union. In case of a problem, the authorities help customers regardless of which Member State the customer and seller are from.
If you purchase items from online shops outside the European Union, such as China or the United States, you have a bigger personal responsibility for the transaction. In case of a problem, you may not receive as much help from the authorities as you do when buying things from within the EU. For instance, a problem may emerge if the seller company disappears from the internet and does not deliver the products for which it has charged you. The parcel may also contain incorrect items. Check the reliability of the online shop carefully before making the purchase.
If a foreign online shop operates actively in Finland, for instance, by providing a website and customer service in Finnish, Finland’s Consumer Protection Act applies to the transaction.
Products ordered from the countries in the European Union are primarily duty-free. Online purchases from outside the European Union must always be declared.
When a parcel arrives to Finland from outside the EU, the post or a delivery company will inform you that the item you have purchased has arrived to the customs.
For the customs clearance, you need detailed information about
- the seller
- the price of the purchases
- postage fees
- the shipping code of the parcel
- the content of your order.
You can declare the parcel on the Finnish Customs website.
Products from outside the EU are subject to customs fees and value added tax. You must also pay excise duty for alcoholic beverages.
If you do not declare a parcel that has arrived from outside the EU, the order will be returned to the sender.
You are also responsible for customs clearance when an undeclared parcel has been delivered to your home address. Fill out a customs clearance form and pay the fee in the e-service of the Finnish Customs.
No. You may not order products such as
- brass knuckles
- other assault equipment
- counterfeit goods.
There are also restrictions to the import of
- endangered animals
- food products and seeds
When you buy a product from a private person online, you do not have the same rights of cancellation or return as when you are the customer of a company. Consumer Advisory Services cannot help in sales between private persons. The seller is responsible for providing a product that is as they have promised. However, the buyer must be able to show that the defect was already in the product before receiving it.
Discuss the situation with the seller. If you are unable to reach an agreement by negotiating, the dispute may be solved in a district court. It is not advisable to take small disputes to court, as legal expenses may be high. If you lose the legal proceedings, you must also pay for the costs of the opposing party.