E-commerce as a sales channel
E-commerce today is an important sales channel for many companies. However, it is associated with some special features compared to other channels. Follow the rules for distance selling in your company’s e-commerce. The rules may have to do, for example, with the information disclosed in e-commerce, or online order confirmations and cancellations.
The rules of distance selling apply to e-commerce. The most important of them are the Consumer Protection Act and the Decree of the Ministry of Justice on withdrawal forms and instructions.
The legislation on payment methods is determined by the features of each payment method and on the basis of the practices applied by the company offering the payment method.
Distance selling must also take account of the Finnish Government Decree on the notification of prices for consumables in marketing. Other laws to consider are the Finnish Act on Electronic Communications Services, the laws on the provision of services and guardianship services, as well as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The rules on distance selling apply to the practical business of e-commerce. For example, they say what information your company needs to provide in its e-commerce. They also determine the terms and conditions relating to cancelling a transaction and returning a product.
Your company may not make its own terms and conditions that weaken the customer’s position. You can, however, set up and apply practices that enhance your customers’ statutory rights.
If your company is based abroad but conducts its marketing in Finnish, the laws of Finland will apply.
The Consumer Ombudsman oversees compliance with the legal provisions.
In e-commerce you must provide at least certain basic details about your company and the products it is selling. Remember to tell customers about the processing of personal data if you are collecting it. You can do this using a privacy statement, for example.
Give your company’s name and contact details. Also provide an address for complaints, if it is different from that of your company’s office. Tell them too about their right to cancel in distance selling.
Describe the main characteristics of the products sold: type, quality, name and any size and colour choices. If it is a complex technical device, the description should be comprehensive.
Give the total price for products as well as the unit price, such as the price per litre. If you cannot state an exact price for a product, give the criteria for determining the price.
In e-commerce you should state the delivery options, costs, payment methods and how to return goods. If the delivery charges cannot be worked out beforehand, mention that delivery may cost extra.
Check the laws on distance selling (such as the Consumer Protection Act) for more details on what to state.
The customer should always receive a confirmation of an order or sale. Confirm the order to your customer in reasonable time following the sale. Your company is responsible to prove that an order confirmation was sent.
If the order relates to a good, send the order confirmation no later than on the day the good is delivered. If it is a service, you must send the order confirmation before the service is provided.
The basic details of your company and the product must be stated in the order confirmation. The terms and conditions concerning such matters as the price, other charges, delivery, customer complaints, right to cancel the purchase, and return must also be detailed in the order confirmation.
The order confirmation must also contain the cancellation form of the type described in the Ministry of Justice Decree. Send the order confirmation in such format that its details cannot be changed later.
A customer may normally cancel a transaction within 14 days of receipt of the product. Cancellations must be made in a manner that leaves nothing to doubt (by using a form, for example). If there is something wrong with the product, the customer can claim a refund even after the cancellation period has expired.
The customer must return the product within 14 days of the cancellation notification. If the customer requires a full refund, the product must be in the same condition as it was at the time of sale. The packaging may normally have been opened if the customer has only checked the product to see what it consists of and if it works.
Even if the customer has used the product, he or she has the right to return it. However, customers themselves will be liable for any decrease in the value of a product due to use.
The costs of returning a product are met by the customer unless your company has offered to pay them.
The company must nevertheless provide customers with the terms and conditions for cancellations and returns, such as who will pay the costs of returning goods, before the transaction is completed.
If you have received a cancellation notification, refund the customer within 14 days. Use the same payment method as the customer. There should be no charges for the customer related to refunds. You can refund customers in other ways: for example, with gift cards, though only if they agree.