Online shopping

Consumer rights

Your rights

Right to information

The trader has an obligation to provide the consumer with the following information in a clear and comprehensible manner and before the consumer places an order:

  • trader identification data,
  • the main characteristics of the goods or services
  • the total price or remuneration along with taxes and fees for delivery, postal services and any other additional costs,
  • methods of payment, delivery or obligation fulfilment,
  • the complaint procedure,
  • in the case of the right to withdraw from the contract, the terms, dates and procedure of withdrawal,
  • the cost of returning the goods in case of withdrawal
  • the time limit within which the offer or price remain binding

The consumer must be aware that an order placed implies an obligation to pay. A confirmation of a placed order must be easily and clearly marked with the words “order with an obligation to pay” or an equivalent phrase.

The consumer must have access, at the latest at the beginning of the ordering process, to information on any delivery restrictions and on accepted means of payment.

The trader must provide the confirmation of the contract concluded, on a durable medium, at the latest at the time of the delivery of the goods or before the performance of the service begins.

Inertia selling

The consumer is exempted from the obligation to provide any consideration in cases of unsolicited supply of goods or unsolicited provision of services. The absence of a response from the consumer does not constitute consent.

For example, a trader sends a book accompanied by an invoice, although he/she have never contacted a given person. The consumer does not have to pay in such a case, since the trader sends the goods at his/her own risk.

Right to withdraw from the contract

The consumer has the right to withdraw from an online contract within 14 days without without giving any reason (the same time limit applies in the entire EU, Norway and Iceland). The withdrawal from the contract does not depend on consent of the trader – it is a unilateral declaration of will.

How to withdraw from the contract?

  • In the case of service contracts the time limit of 14 days starts running on the day of contract conclusion, while in the case of sales contracts – on the day on which the consumer received the goods. If the consumer was not informed on the right of withdrawal, the time limit is extended to 12 months.
  • In order to withdraw from the contract, the consumer must notify the trader about it observing the 14-day time limit. The notification should be made in writing and its copy should be kept for evidentiary purposes.
  • The consumer should send back the goods not later than 14 days after having informed the trader about his decision to withdraw from the contract. The consumer bears only the direct cost of returning the goods, if he/she has been duly informed about it.
  • An online shop cannot make the withdrawal of the consumer from a distance contract dependent on return of goods in the original packaging, which was not the object of sale, but served only to protect the goods. However, it is advisable to return the goods in the original packaging, if possible.
  • The trader has an obligation to immediately, not later than 14 days after having been information about the consumer’s withdrawal from the contract, reimburse all payments received from the consumer, including the cost of goods delivery. The trader may withhold the reimbursement until he has received the goods back, or until he has received evidence that the goods were sent.
  • If at the explicit request of the consumer, the service provision begins immediately, then in the case of withdrawal the consumer must pay for the service provided by the time of withdrawal.
  • The consumer is liable only for any diminished value of the goods resulting from the handling of the goods other than what is necessary to establish the nature, characteristics and functioning of the goods.

Exceptions from the right of withdrawal:

  • purchase of goods which are liable to deteriorate or expire rapidly (e.g. food)
  • purchase of goods made to the consumer’s specifications or clearly personalised (e.g. custom made furniture, custom tailored suits, engraved jewellery)
  • purchase of sealed goods which are not suitable for return due to health protection or hygiene reasons and were unsealed after delivery (e.g. medicinal products, wet wipes)
  • purchase of sealed audio or sealed video recordings or sealed computer software which were unsealed after delivery
  • purchase of accommodation (other than for residential purpose), transport of goods, car rental services, catering or services related to leisure activities, entertainment, sport or cultural events, if the contract provides for a specific date or period of performance.

NOTE: The Act on consumer rights does not apply to contract related to passenger transport, travel service contracts or timeshare contracts.

Complaint

Consumers who file a complaint about goods that are not in conformity with the contract may select the legal basis for their claims:

  • complaint under warranty – the seller is liable
  • complaint under guarantee – the guarantor is liable, if the guarantee was granted

The seller is liable to the consumer for the goods sold, if a defect is found within 2 years from the moment of the goods provision (except for real property, where the liability period is 5 years).

Goods are in conformity with the contract if they:

  • comply with the description given by the seller
  • comply with the sample or with the model presented to the consumer
  • are fit for any particular purpose of the consumer, which he made known to the seller
  • possess the qualities normal in goods of the same type
  • possess the qualities which the consumer can reasonably expect
  • comply with public statements made by the seller, the producer or their representatives (e.g. in advertising or on labelling).

The seller is not liable for the lack of conformity of goods with the contract, if the consumer was aware of the lack of conformity upon contract conclusion, or if the lack of conformity has its origin in materials supplied by the consumer.

Pursuant to the EU regulations, Member States may provide that, in order to benefit from his rights, the consumer must inform the seller of the lack of conformity within a period of two months from the date on which he detected such lack of conformity. In the Polish law, the time limit was extended to one year.

In addition, unless the EU Member States decided otherwise, any lack of conformity which becomes apparent within six months of delivery is presumed to have existed at the time of delivery. The Polish legislator went further and extended the said period to one year.

The Polish law specifies the maximum period, i.e. 14 days for the trader to reply to the received consumer complaint. If the consumer requires replacement or repair, or price reduction, and does not receive a reply within the time limit, his claims are considered justified.

NOTE: If the regulations of a shop registered in Poland provide for a longer period for handling the complaint than 14 days, it is a prohibited clause.

What can the consumer require under warranty? The consumer may require:

  • repair or replacement of the goods
  • appropriate price reduction or withdrawal from the contract

If the buyer first requires appropriate price reduction or withdrawal from the contract, the trader may not accept such claim. In such case, the seller must, immediately and without significant inconvenience to the buyer, replace the defective goods to the good free from defect, or remove the defect.

Any repair or replacement of the goods should be completed within a reasonable time and is free of charge.

Remember that the consumer may withdraw from the contract only if the lack of conformity of the goods with the contract is significant. If the defect which became apparent is not significant, the consumer has the right to use other possible solutions.

What does a guarantee offer?

A guarantee is a voluntary declaration of will of the guarantor, who most often is a producer or an importer. A guarantee document should, as a minimum, specify:

  • name and address of the guarantor
  • territorial scope
  • guarantee duration
  • other basic data required to pursue claims under guarantee

The rules governing the complaints made under guarantee depend on the guarantee document provisions. In accordance with Polish law, if the guarantee declaration does not provide for a date, the trader shall perform his/her obligations immediately, but not later than within 14 days.

If the guarantee does not provide for another date, the guarantee period is 2 years from the date when the guarantee was issued to the buyer.

If it is impossible to execute a guarantee claim, the consumer still has the right to complain under warranty.

NOTE: The terms “European guarantee” and “international guarantee” are not legal terms. It is a common name for a guarantee document whose scope is defined as Europe/European Union or by specifying any countries of the world, respectively. Therefore, before making a purchase you need to check the territorial scope of guarantee.

How to complain?

In the event of any irregularities, turn to the trader in the first place. You should state the following information in a letter to the trader:

  • the date of posting commercial communication and the address of the website where it was published,
  • order placing date,
  • features of the ordered product or service,
  • paid amount and payment method,
  • additional data, for instance order or customer number,
  • the reason behind the complaint,
  • other relevant data,
  • request, for instance product replacement, refund.

It is recommended to keep a copy of the website (for example using the PrintScreen key), contract, regulations, complaint form and all correspondence with the trader.

Download: Model complaint form in Polish and in English.

In the case of an unsatisfactory resolution or in the absence of a response from the trader, you can request assistance of competent institutions. In the case of cross-border cases, i.e. when a consumer residing in Poland has concluded a with a trader registered outside Poland, but in the European Union, Norway or Iceland, the competent institution is the European Consumer Centre in Poland.

 

Safe shopping

E-shop reliability check

W celach bezpieczeństwa przed dokonaniem zakupu przez Internet należy:
  • read the terms and conditions,
  • read the so-called privacy policy which specifies the rules for keeping personal data,
  • when to place an order you are required to provide suspiciously extensive confidential data, i.e. your PESEL number or ID card number, make sure the data will not be used for other purposes,
  • read opinions on the trader on the Internet,
  • check if secure payment methods are available. Before the address of the e-shop website there must be a green bar and https:// protocol, as well as closed padlock symbol,
  • compare the trader’s details with the name of his/her bank account. Avoid express transfers and transfers into a private bank account of the seller,
  • compare competitive offers and assess the real value of the goods. Too low a price should arouse doubts, for instance as to the authenticity or the technical condition of the goods. A tempting offer of a mobile phone for PLN 300 when its market value is about PLN 1,000 may be a scam.

NOTE: A website address ending with “.pl” does not necessarily mean that the website belongs to a shop registered in Poland.

How to check shop reliability?

First, look for full contact details of the trader. Absence of basic information about the e-shop (i.e. registry data, address, phone number, e-mail) affects its credibility.

It is worthwhile to use on-line national registers of economic operators. To check a Polish entity, go to:

NOTE: A common practice for entities from outside the European Union is to state a Polish address which in fact is only a virtual office. A Polish mailing address does not necessarily mean that the trader is registered in Poland.

If you suspect you are dealing with a scam, you may want to use SCAM search engines such as https://www.scamwarners.com/.

Scam in cyberspace

The Internet is a new place where criminals can easily con consumers. The most common tricks include:

  • E-mail offers: typically these are proposals sent by legitimate companies. However, it pays to be vigilant because it may be the case that a scammer pretends to be a known shop and invites us to do shopping. The website looks almost identical as that of a popular shop with an established reputation.
  • Testing services: it is worthwhile to check if a free of charge test service is not in fact a paid contract containing clauses that automatically extend the “free service” into an expensive and unnecessary contract.
  • Lottery scams: scammers send an e-mail to a specific Internet user with an information that he/she won the lottery and is entitled to prize money. It all starts with an e-mail with congratulations – your are the winner although have not taken part in any contest.
  • Vague letters of reference, letters of praise: “Thousands of satisfied customers!” – it sounds great and impressive, but it does not allow you to check the credibility of the trader.
  • “This is not a scam”: do not let such declarations trick you. An honest business does not need this kind of declarations.
  • Pay for a secret revealed: sometimes you can find an online offer to get to know a secret method of becoming rich for the chosen ones. Meanwhile, usually thousands of users fall victims of this trick. Fraudsters suggest that the secret would be revealed for a fee.
  • Hidden expenses: watch out for classifieds and advertisements promising no initial costs, and then only asking for a single fee.
  • Phishing: the offender uses generally available on-line services to trick victims and extort sensitive personal or financial data, such as a credit card number, passwords, usernames, PINs. Do not respond to e-mails requesting you to click links to update your personal data. Data disclosed impulsively are often used for criminal activities.

Spam

Unsolicited commercial communication (spam) is prohibited. Polish law provides for the opt-in variant, i.e. prior approval of the customer-addressee is required. Also default permission (e.g. disclosure of your e-mail) is considered a consent, provided that the addressee was generally informed of the intention to use the e-mail for marketing purposes.

At the same time, an unsolicited provision by electronic means takes place at the risk of the trader. The consumer is not required to pay any fees for this kind of service provided.

Online auctions/listing websites

Please note that a contract is not concluded with an auction website (e.g. eBay, Allegro) or with the listing website operator, but with the person who published an offer. Therefore it is worthwhile to check the credibility of the seller and his/her status: whether it is a natural person or a trader.

Escrow companies

Escrow companies act as intermediaries in on-line sales: a consumer sends them a payment, the seller sends them goods, and they exchange these two, i.e. the buyer receives the goods and the seller gets the money.

 

Time limits and legal basis

Time limits

  • 14 days to withdraw from the contract starting from the day of contract conclusion in the case of service contracts, and from the day on which the consumer received the goods in the case of sales contracts,
  • 14 day to return the goods to the trader in the case of withdrawal from the contract,
  • 30 days for delivery of goods to the consumer, unless the parties agreed otherwise,
  • 2 years of the seller’s liability for the lack of conformity of goods with the contract,
  • 14 days for the trader’s reply to the received consumer complaint – if the Polish law applies,
  • 14 days for performing the guarantor’s obligations, unless the guarantee card provides otherwise, if the Polish law applies.

The above time limits are effective only within the European Union. In the case of online shopping from a trader registered outside the EU, consumer rights may be different.

Legal basis

  • Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights,
  • Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees,
  • Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market ('Directive on electronic commerce’).

The Directives are reflected in the domestic legislation:

  • Act of 23 April 1964 – Civil Code,
  • Act of 30 May 2014 on Consumer Rights,
  • Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means.