Case studies are a good way of showing what happens when you contact us at the UK ECC.  They also provide some insight into the processes that we take to provide assistance when you have a dispute.  

The consumer has a problem!

Mr W, a consumer from Germany made a purchase from a website of a UK based company.  Mr W purchased some clothing for his wife that he was going to give to her as a Christmas gift.

When the items were delivered he wrapped them up and gave them to his wife as planned.  Unfortunately for Mr W one of the items didn't fit so he contacted the company to ask about exchanging it for a smaller one.  The company suggested that this would not be a problem to exchange however he would have to pay for the return postage and there would be a 20% restocking fee charged.  Mr W didn't feel this was right so he contacted the ECC in Germany for advice.

Our colleagues in Germany took all of the details from Mr W and provided these to us in the hope that we could assist Mr W by contacting the company to inform them of their legal obligations.

Next step - Legal assessment

The law for cooling off is very clear.  The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations suggests that goods purchased online need to have a 14 day cooling-off period.  This starts from the day after the goods are received.  The consumer is obliged to pay for the return postage and the company cannot charge any extra fees and must refund/exchange to the amount the consumer has paid.

There are some exceptions to the cooling-off period but on this occasion Mr W was within his rights to a cooling-off period for this purchase.

Action taken

We informed our colleagues at ECC Germany that the return postage would have to be paid but there should be no extra fees charged.

We contacted the company to inform them of the law relating to the cooling off period.  They agreed that when the item was received that they would refund Mr W in full or send out the correct sized garment with no extra charge.

ECC Germany informed Mr W of the proposed outcome and he was happy to accept.

Self-help section

We understand that it can be difficult to find the time to contact us, it is possible to help yourself out of a sticky situation.  For more information about online purchases please visit our page - Shopping online for an over view of your consumer rights.

If you need to write a formal letter to the company you can download a template letter here - Distance selling cancellation

If all else fails contact us for free advice and assistance on 01268 886690 or

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