ECC Austria informs European consumers on how to safely shop online - in Europe and around the world.
Trader don't need to rent expensive shops and there are no costs for consumer advice. As consumers tolerate delivery times, the trader doesn't need his own storage space and the financial risk is low due to prepayment. The logical consequence of these advantages for the trader positively influence his prices.
Enormous range of goods and services
But consumers also face disadvantages when shopping online. They can't examine and value the goods, they base their purchase decision only on pictures and descriptions. Furthermore, they can't get a personal impression of the trader and his reliability, there's no personal advice and in case of complaints, an intervention on-site is impossible.
Anyone looking for bargains on the internet should consider the following:
- Scepticism needed when reading incredible promises. Note: not even a seal of approval on a website guarantees a flawless routine.
- Inform yourself about the person of the seller, the more you can find out, the better. Minimum requirements should be a postal address in the EU, Norway or Iceland, a telephone number and email address.
- Attention: Internet contracts are unsigned, closed only by simply clicking on a button. Read carefully!
- Look closely, what you buy. Check the goods using illustrations, content lists, measurements or other information the seller provides. Make sure that foreign products also work in Austria.
- Read the terms and conditions (GTC).
- Beware of prepayment. This always bears the risk that the other party does not fulfil its obligations, and the consumer has to run after his money or the goods.
- Choose COD if possible. If you need to make a payment by credit card be sure to select an encrypted transmission of data and check the accounting documents (bank statements) of your credit card company regularly. In the event of improper use of your card, you can request cancellation of the payment from the credit card companies.
- Take note of additional charges. The final price should be clearly indicated. Watch out for possible additional costs, such as exchange fees (for non-euro area countries), tax, shipping, customs, etc.
- Clarify in advance the cost for returns.
- Print and hold on to documents. Print all information about the order and keep them.
Shopping online abroad
Fees, rights and duties, consumer protection and other details may vary depending on whether the contractual partner is situated within or outside the EU. Please consider the following tips when you shop online:
- Private person or company? Make sure whether the seller is a private person or a company. Consumer protection law only applies to contracts concluded between consumer and a trader (C2B - consumer to business).
- Internal market? Distinguish between shopping within the EU and outside of the EU.
- Legal situation? Within the EU, consumer protection law is widely unified and ensures your protection as well as the possibility to enforce your rights from your place of residence. Within third countries, such beneficial rules regarding the applicable law and the place of law enforcement often don't exist.
- Taxes and customs charges? When shopping within the EU internal market, no additional taxes and customs charges will occur. If you want to buy goods from a third country, turn to the customs office beforehand to get information about possible taxes and fees.
- Sales tax? Within the EU, the sales tax rate is usually included in the purchase price. Shopping in Member States with a lower tax rate could therefore be beneficial for consumers.
- Caution: If a company situated in the EU gains revenues of more than € 35.000,- per anno in Austria, the Austrian sales tax applies (10-20%)!
- Import restrictions? Not everything available online is allowed to be imported. Regarding medication and other sensitive goods (like fur or leather of protected animals), there might ne a general import ban or a special import procedure (e.g. weapons, cars).