The 7 day Rule can happen to you...

Liam buys a laptop on the internet. A few days later, his new gadget arrives, but after taking it out of the box he notices the laptop doesn't completely live up to his expectations. It doesn't have some of the main specifications he required and he immediately sends the webshop an email, saying that he would like to cancel the purchase agreement and he asks what the rules are for returns.

The webshop emails back that Liam can no longer cancel the agreement and points out that the small print says that only products in unopened packaging can be returned.

Liam does not leave it at that and he contacts a solicitor to ask what the Dutch law says about this. The solicitor tells Liam that he does indeed have the right to cancel the purchase agreement and suggests him to send the laptop back, as long as he does it within 7 days after receiving the package – even if Liam has already taken the laptop out of its box.

The solicitor sends the webshop a letter and summons the owner of the website to cooperate to cancelling the purchase agreement. The webshop replies that they will allow Liam to cancel and to return the product.

Liam receives the full purchase price of the laptop back in his account, including postage costs. The only thing he has to cover himself are the costs for returning the goods to the webshop.

Do I have to accept a voucher or credit not when returning online goods?

Marie Jean is preparing for a spring holiday and decides to buy herself some new clothes. She orders some dresses, tops and trousers off the internet and a few days later the clothes are delivered to her home. When she tries them on, she finds that they don't actually become her and some of the sizes are wrong. She sends the clothes back to the webshop and they send her a voucher for €230 euros, which is the amount she spent on the purchases. Does she have to accept the voucher or is she legally entitled to get her money back?

The latter is true. You do not have accept a voucher. Buying products off the internet is legally called “purchase on distance” (koop op afstand in Dutch). This means that you are allowed 7 days to change your mind and cancel the purchase agreement. If you would like to use that right, you need to send the shop a trackable letter and then send the items back to the webshop, even if you have opened the packaging. If the product itself is not damaged, you can expect to get your money back – including the sending costs and the seller has 30 days to refund you. You only have to pay to return the items yourself.

This is also valid if you buy products by phone, fax or through a coupon from a magazine or catalogue. These rules are put in place to protect the customer. If the webshop is part of, you even have 14 days to change your mind.

Which information is mandatory for the webshop to provide you with?

Before you decide to buy the items off the internet, the seller has to provide you with some vital information, which is:

ʘ the contact details of the seller (name, email address, phone number, etc.)

ʘ the main characteristics of the products you are about to purchase

ʘ the total price of the product(s) – including extra costs and taxes

ʘ the payment conditions

ʘ the (im)possibility for the customer to cancel the purchase within a certain amount of time

ʘ how long the offer is valid for

ʘ the minimum amount of time it will take to get the product(s) delivered to you (this is legally no more than 30 days)


If the seller is not able to give you this information, the legal term within which you are allowed to cancel your purchase is up to 3 months. The seller is not allowed to charge you any costs for cancelling the agreement. If the item you are about to purchase is not in stock or cannot be delivered, the seller has to immediately inform you of this and refund you whatever you have paid already. He can offer to sell you a similar product with the same value and quality, but only if you have been informed and have agreed to this.

Be careful! These rules and rights do not apply to the following products or services:

ʘ booked travels or holidays

ʘ newspapers and magazines

ʘ cd's, dvd's and software of which you have opened the packaging

ʘ products that are especially made for you, for example a photo on canvas or tailor made clothes

ʘ products that have an expiry date or quickly lose their freshness

ʘ a service or subscription that is already passed its starting date, for example a new mobile

ʘ provider or a membership to the gym


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