Consumer sales and responsibility for faults
When your company sells its products to consumers, use clear contractual terms and make sure that you act in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act. You may sell goods or services and the products may be physical or digital. If there is a fault in a product bought by a consumer, credit the consumer with its value. Depending on the situation, you can correct the fault, give a product with no faults to replace the defective one, agree on a price reduction or cancel the sale. Remember that a consumer also has the right to demand compensation for damage caused by a defect in a product or a service.
When a consumer buys a product or service from your company, a contract is created between you. It is based on contractual terms and conditions which aim to establish trading rules and prevent disputes.
Both your company and the consumer must comply with the terms of the contract. In general, neither of you can amend the contract unilaterally without some special reason. The contract may concern a single product; a one time delivery, or it may be a long-term contract.
Draw up the contractual terms in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act. According to the nature of the contract, write down clearly all the terms that concern issues that are crucial to the consumer, such as
If you draw up contractual terms that are unclear, they will be interpreted for the benefit of the consumer.
Give the consumer the opportunity to become familiar with the contract terms already at the marketing stage or at the latest when concluding the contract. Note that simply making reference to the terms and conditions when making the sale is not sufficient.
You can also use standard terms and conditions, if they have been drawn up for your business sector.
The primary responsibility for defects in a product or a service lies with the seller. The consumer also has the right to make a claim based on the defect against the manufacturer, importer, or other trader at an earlier stage in the sales chain. Their liability for defects follows the same principles as the seller’s liability but is less extensive.
The consumer must make a notification of the fault within a reasonable time after they should have noticed it. However, a notification of a fault can always be made within two months of the date when the consumer actually noticed the fault. If a warranty has been given on the product, the provider of the warranty is responsible for the product in accordance with the terms of the warranty.
The seller is responsible for any faults in the goods at the time of transfer even if the fault does not occur until later. If the fault occurs within a year of the transfer of the product, it is assumed that the fault was already in the product at the time of the transfer and the seller is liable for it. To be released from liability, the seller must prove that the product was free of faults at the time of the transfer.
The expiry of the warranty period or the one-year period does not mean that the seller’s liability for defects in the product has ended. If the defect occurs within one year of the transfer of the product, it is assumed that the product was already defective at the time of the transfer and that the seller is liable for the defect.
If a consumer suffers damage as the result of a fault in a product bought from your company, the consumer has the right to demand compensation for the damage from your company.
The product must correspond to what was agreed and meet the general requirements set for it. For example, in terms of durability, the product must correspond to what can reasonably be expected of similar goods. There is no comprehensive list of defects that the seller is liable for as the defectiveness of a product is determined on a case-by-case basis.
In the sales of products containing digital elements, the seller must also provide information on essential updates and supply them to the consumer for a specific period. If the seller fails to do this, the product is considered defective.
If there is a defect in the product that you have sold to a consumer, the consumer has the right to make a complaint. As a rule, the consumer may choose whether the defective product should be repaired or replaced. However, the freedom of choice is not absolute. If for example, the product contains a minor defect that can be easily repaired, the seller can usually repair the product instead of replacing it.
If the seller cannot repair the product or deliver a defect-free product, the consumer may request a price reduction corresponding to the defect or cancel the sale unless the defect is minor. The same applies if the product is not repaired or a defect-free product is not supplied within a reasonable time and without any significant inconvenience to the consumer. As a rule, the consumer may already request a price reduction or cancellation of the sale after one unsuccessful attempt to repair or replace the product. The consumer may also request a price reduction or cancellation of the sale immediately if the defect is so serious that the product cannot be repaired or replaced
A service is defective if it does not correspond to the agreed content, methods or results. The fault is defined on the basis of the contract between the consumer and the service provider or general expectations (and not on the consumer’s personal expectations).
If there is a deficiency in a service you have sold to a consumer, the consumer has the right to lodge a complaint with your business. The consumer also has the right to refuse to pay part of the contract price equivalent to the deficiency until your company has corrected the deficiency.
Your company can correct the error or redo the deficient work if the consumer so requests. It must not, however, result in costs for the consumer. It is not compulsory to carry out a repair if that would create unreasonable costs or inconvenience for your company In that case you can offer a price reduction to cover the deficiency, or if that is not successful, you can propose to cancel the transaction.
If, in spite of requests, your company does not correct the deficiency or redo the work at all or within a reasonable time, the consumer may use another company to correct the work and invoice your company for it. Alternatively, the consumer may demand a price reduction or the cancellation of the transaction, if the job is thoroughly deficient.
A company is responsible for ensuring that a digital content or service corresponds to what has been agreed and meets all general requirements in terms of quality, functioning and compatibility. The company must also ensure that information on essential updates is provided and that the updates are supplied to the consumer for a specific period. If the company fails to do this, the digital content or service is considered defective.
If a digital content or service contains a defect that the company is liable for, the consumer has the right to request that the defect is corrected, a price reduction is granted or that the sale is cancelled. The consumer also has the right to request damages. The consumer also has the right not to pay the purchase price.
The defect must be corrected within a reasonable time and without any costs or significant inconvenience to the consumer. However, the company does not need to correct the defect if there are insurmountable obstacles to it or if the company would incur unreasonable costs as a result.
If a consumer has undertaken to pay a purchase price for a digital content or service and the defect cannot be corrected, the consumer has the right to request a price reduction or cancellation of the sale unless the defect is minor. This is also the case if the defect is not corrected within a reasonable time and without any significant inconvenience to the consumer. As a rule, the consumer may already request a price reduction or cancellation of the sale after one unsuccessful attempt to correct the defect. The consumer may also request a price reduction or cancellation of the sale immediately if the defect is so serious that it cannot be corrected.
In agreements under which a consumer has undertaken to disclose personal data and the defect in the content or service cannot be corrected, the consumer has the right to request a cancellation of the sale regardless of whether the defect is minor or not.
Your company must ensure that the consumer understands that they must pay for the digital products that they have ordered. For example, if the consumer must press the order button to place an order, the product and the costs that the consumer must pay as a result must be shown next to the button.
A digital content contract delivered electronically is often used when digital products are sold. However, depending on the nature of the product, other contract types (such as service contract) may also be used.
The 14-day return (cancellation) period for digital products starts from the conclusion of the contract. However, the consumer does not have the right to cancel the contract if they
Electronic delivery of digital content means, for example, that the data is downloaded or streamed to the consumer’s device.