Tips for webshops

Right of withdrawal after online purchase: what are my rights?



Written by Maxine

14 Nov 2023

Tips for webshops

What is the right of withdrawal?

The right of withdrawal - also called the right of rescission or return - gives consumers in the European Union the right to recall a sales contract within a certain period of time. If consumers return purchased products within the legal withdrawal period, they are entitled to a full refund of the purchase price, including shipping costs.

In this article, we discuss what rights consumers have after an online purchase, what information the online seller must provide, what exceptions to the right of withdrawal for online purchases apply and how a returns management platform such as Returnless can help you comply with all of these.

What are a customer's rights after an online purchase?

When consumers are not satisfied with a product or it does not meet their expectations, they have the right to return the product without giving any reason and within the prescribed return period. Upon a return, the online seller must refund the customer the purchase amount including shipping costs.

However, the purchase amount does not always have to be refunded in full, for example if the product has already been used. The seller can then charge a depreciation to compensate for the loss of value due to use. However, to claim a depreciation, the customer must be adequately informed about the right of withdrawal for online purchases and its conditions on the retailer's website.


What information must the seller provide?

What information must the seller provide?
Online retailers must clearly inform consumers on their website about the right of withdrawal. Most online shops have an assigned page where they inform their customers about the guidelines regarding the right of withdrawal for online purchases. Such a page should contain the following information:

  • Who bears the return costs in the case of a return?
  • What exceptions to the right of withdrawal apply?
  • Example of a return form.
  • Information on depreciation for used products.

If the online seller does not clearly state the right of return on his or her website, that right is extended to 12 months and 14 days from the date of delivery of the goods.

Clear communication about the right of withdrawal for online purchases is not only in the online seller's interest because of the legal obligation; transparent communication also helps gain consumers' trust and improve their shopping experience. This way, you guarantee a smooth process for any returns and ensure that your customers come back to shop with you next time.


Are you always entitled to the right of withdrawal?

Legal exceptions to the right of withdrawal apply to certain product categories. These include personalised products, perishable goods and hygiene products. Exceptions are especially important for hygiene products, as these items often cannot be returned for health and hygiene reasons. Such products are usually sealed and, according to the right of withdrawal for online purchases, cannot be returned once the seal is broken..

In the Netherlands, there was an interesting court ruling recently where a consumer was refunded the full purchase price of an opened perfume bottle, as perfume does not fall under the hygiene exception, according to the Amsterdam court. Both online sellers and consumers are therefore well advised to carefully check the specific return conditions for each product to avoid misunderstandings and ensure a mutually satisfactory shopping experience.


Distance selling and cooling-off period

If consumers and sellers do not meet in person during the purchase process - for example, when shopping online or by phone - a so-called "distance contract" is concluded. Again, the statutory cooling-off period of 14 days applies during which consumers can return purchased products without giving reasons. From the moment the return is registered with the seller, the customer still has 14 days to return the item. The online retailer must then refund the money again within 14 days of receiving the return.

Returnless return solutions

As an online seller, you cannot avoid the right of withdrawal. But because every return has a different reason and timeline, properly handling the right of withdrawal for online purchases can sometimes cause a lot of headaches in practice.

Return management platforms like Returnless can not only greatly simplify the return process as a whole, but also ensure that your online shop always adheres to the legally prescribed guidelines. The returns process is digitised and, above all, automated. As soon as customers register a return, all necessary order details are immediately retrieved. Customer queries are also used to clarify other important details about the return. Thus, returns that are not authorised can be rejected automatically and without manual intervention - for example, if the statutory cooling-off period has expired or another exception to the right of withdrawal applies. This not only ensures that all return processes are carried out according to the rules and in compliance with the return conditions on your website, but also saves you valuable time and headaches.

Want to know how Returnless can help your online shop create a stress-free digital returns process? Create a free test account today or contact us for a  demo.



Want to see Returnless in action? We love to give you a tour through our platform. Plan a 15-min demo with one of our colleagues and we will show you all in's & out's.

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Experience our platform yourself by creating a free account. You can set-up and test out a return form in your branding, and check out all our features first hand.