1 Contact the EU seller

If an item you’ve purchased from another EU country develops a fault, isn't fit for purpose or you simply want to return it, the first step is to contact the seller. 

They might be able to rectify the problem easily.  

When you contact the seller be sure to send a copy of your proof of purchase. This may be a receipt, an order confirmation or even a bank statement.

2 Contact UK ECC

If the seller is not amenable, check to see whether they're a member of a trade body. The trade body may be able to help you. 

You may also wish to contact the UK European Consumer Centre (ECCN). This network is UK-based but operates within all EU countries. 

It can provide information and help on problems with goods or services, and help you resolve your issue by offering guidance or speak to the trader on your behalf.

3 Use the online dispute service

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 a simpler, quicker and cheaper process than going to court.

4 Use European small claims court 

If you've explored all other avenues and you're seeking redress for a sum of less than €2,000, you may wish to take your claim to the European Small Claims Court.

The European Small Claims Procedure simplifies small claims between EU countries.

If this is the best course of action, make sure you have copies of all communications with the trader as evidence.

When it comes to enforcing the judgement, it's the responsibility of the country in which the trader lives.

Will my returns rights be impacted if the UK leaves the EU with no deal?

Your right to return goods bought from an EU retailer won’t change from your existing rights in a no-deal scenario.

Unless the EU retailer is actively marketing their goods to the UK, you’ll be buying the goods under the law of that country - this applies now and would apply in the same way if the UK left the EU with no deal.

But after a no-deal Brexit, you might find it more difficult to return goods purchased from the EU because it will be more complicated to exercise your right to return.

If you get into a dispute with a retailer based in the EU, Trading Standards won’t be able to help you and you’ll have to go to that country to file your claim against them in the courts.

UK consumers will still be able to contact the UK’s European Consumer Centre (ECCN) for help and advice for a while if no deal is reached, as the government has committed to funding the ECCN for one more year.

The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform run by the European Commission will no longer be accessible to UK buyers and sellers in a no-deal scenario. But the obligations around alternative dispute resolution for businesses will not change as a result of a no deal.

UK-based alternative-dispute-resolution organisations will no longer be required to act in cross-border disputes though, so you may no longer be able to use these.

In the case of a no-deal, you won't be able to pursue a claim in the UK small claims court with a retailer based in the EU. You'll have to issue your claim in the country of the retailer or company you're in a dispute with.

Read our Brexit and consumer rights guide for information on this and other key areas of consumer law that would be affected by a no-deal Brexit.

5 Claim on your credit card

If you bought your item on a credit card, you may be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act

This means you can claim against your credit card company to get your money back for items that cost more than £100 up to £30,000.

If you used your debit card, or the item cost less than £100 and you paid by credit card, you may be able to use chargeback to recoup the cost.

6 Claim via PayPal

If you paid using PayPal, you can raise a ‘dispute’ with the seller, as long as this is within 45 days of the payment. 

If this isn't resolved within 20 days, you can escalate the dispute, and raise a claim under the PayPal Protection Scheme.

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