Legal tips for webshops: How to reimburse a customer in case of returned goods

webshop karretje buttonThe 2014 law on distance sales (boek VI “Marktpraktijken en consumentenbescherming” van het Wetboek van economisch recht) brought some important changes to the handling of returned goods payments by webshops. These changes have lead to quite some questions in our firm from amongst others webshops that are applying for a SafeShops label. We’ll try to summarize the new rules in this article, that is also published in the upcoming SafeShops.be newsletter.

Reimbursement of full purchase price

If a consumer exercises their right to cancel a purchase or return goods, the seller must reimburse the consumer the full purchase price, including any original delivery costs (the seller cannot charge any cancellation fees). However, if a consumer has expressly requested a delivery method that is more expensive than your basic cost, the seller is only obliged to refund the basic delivery cost – for example, if a consumer has opted for a next day delivery service rather than the standard method by post. In some cases, the seller may also be entitled to deduct the value of services that he has provided, at the consumer’s express request, during the cancellation period (see ‘Supply of a service in the cancellation period’ below).

Reimbursement within 14 days, using the same payment method

The seller must reimburse the consumer without undue delay and within 14 days from the day after the consumer informs the seller of his decision. If the consumer is sending goods back to the seller, the seller need to reimburse within 14 days of the day he gets the goods back or, if earlier, 14 days from the day he receives proof from the consumer that he has sent the goods back. The seller must reimburse the consumer using the same payment method he used originally but you can come to an express agreement with the consumer to use an alternative method. This agreement should be obtained from the consumer by providing e.g. multiple reimbursement options on the return form. Alternatives to reimbursement by the same payment method could be, reimbursement on a bank account if initial payment was made through credit card, reimbursement in vouchers or credits when initial payment was made in cash, etc…, for so long as the consumer always has the option to choose reimbursement by the same payment method and this choice is in no way less favourable to the client (no extra costs, no extra delays, no effect on membership rights or account rights). Also bear in mind that all prechecked option fields are prohibited and thus the choice for alternative reimbursement cannot be prechecked on the return form (and cannot be hidden from the consumer in any way).

Deduction for diminished value

Finally the seller has a right to deduct an amount from the reimbursement (or charge a consumer) if he has diminished the value of the goods by handling them beyond what is necessary to establish their nature, characteristics and function, but only if
The seller has provided consumers with the explicit information about their right to cancel and of the seller’s right to deduct an amount in case of diminished value.

Questions

If you are a SafeShops.be member and you have any question on the correct application of the rules regarding rights of return, don’t hesitate to contact the Sirius Legal team at safeshops@siriuslegal.be. SafeShops members benefit from priority service and get a 15% discount on all fees for all questions sent through the dedicated safeshops@siriuslegal.be e-mail address.

It goes without saying that we are available to SafeShops.be members as well through the e-mail below.


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