EU-wide rules such as the Brussels Regulation mean that some of your consumer rights are protected throughout the union by the Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Consumer Rights Act.
Shopping in the EU
When you buy goods or services from a trader based in another EU country, some of your rights may depend on the laws of that country. But some consumer rights laws are broadly the same across the EU.
Check what the seller’s terms and conditions say about returns before placing your order. The law sets out the minimum requirements for returns, but some traders may choose to go further than this.
If you want to get a refund or a replacement for an item bought from another EU country, some of your UK consumer rights, such as some rights under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, are still protected.
If you need help in settling a claim, the European small claims procedure can help you seek redress.
The Brussels Regulation
Under the Brussels Regulation, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to argue that the laws of the country you come from can take priority over that of the seller’s.
This means you may be able to argue that you’re protected by the Sale of Goods Act, which states that goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.
While, in most EU countries, you’ll be entitled to get a repair or replacement for faulty goods, legislation doesn’t always give you the right to reject goods and get a refund.
In the UK, the Consumer Rights Act allows you to reject a faulty product and get a full refund as long as you reject the product within a 30 day ‘right to reject’ period.
The Brussels Regulation means you may be able to argue that you’re protected by this law.
If you need to return an item to another EU country, take a look at our step-by-step guide to help you.
Returning an item bought on holiday
If you buy something while on holiday within the EU then, from a legal point of view, the contract is seen as being concluded in that country.
This means your rights will depend on the laws in that country should your product develop a fault or isn’t of satisfactory quality.
But getting redress is now easier thanks to the European small claims court procedure.
This system has been standardised across all EU countries, making it simpler for consumers to make a claim.
Credit card payments
If you bought something on a credit card, you may be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
This means you may be able to claim against your credit card company to get your money back for items that cost more than £100 but not more than £30,000.
If you used your debit card or credit card, you may be able to use chargeback to recoup the cost. This is particularly useful if the item or service cost less than £100.
If you bought your item online
Online sellers from other EU countries may target their products or services to the UK market – by offering prices in pounds sterling and delivery options to the UK, for example.
If you buy from such a seller online and something goes wrong, you can argue that your UK statutory rights apply to the contract, despite it being subject to the laws of another country.
So, if you purchased your item online from a trader from another EU country, then you should be protected by the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which is the UK law that implements the EU Consumer Rights Directive.
Online dispute resolution
Do you have a complaint about a product or service you bought online from another EU country?
As long as you live within the EU and bought the product or service from an EU country, you can complain using the European Online Dispute Resolution Service.
This can be quicker, simpler and cheaper than going to court.