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Withdrawal from the sales contract by the consumer

Caution

In general, these rules also apply to entrepreneurs from EU Member States in Austria.

If the consumer withdraws from a sales contract or other contract for the acquisition of goods for valuable consideration, he/she must return the goods to the online shop operator without undue delay (and in any event not later than 14 days from the day on which he/she communicated the declaration of withdrawal). This does not apply if the online shop operator has offered to collect the goods himself/herself. The deadline for returning goods is deemed to have been met if the goods have been sent back before the period has expired.

The direct costs of sending the goods back must be borne by the consumer. This does not apply if the online shop operator has agreed

  • to bear those costs or
  • if he/she failed to inform the consumer of his/her obligation to bear the costs.

The consumer must only pay compensation to the online shop operator for any reduction in the market value of the goods if the loss in value results from the handling of the goods other than what is necessary to ascertain the nature, characteristics and functioning of the goods. For the consumer, this means that he/she will only be liable for compensation if the goods are used beyond the extent necessary for an inspection and a loss of value occurs as a result. The mere removal of the goods from their packaging and the initial use of those goods in order to determine whether they are fit for use does not render the consumer liable for compensation under any circumstances.

If an item of clothing is ordered, for example, the consumer may only try it on, but not wear it. Electrical devices may be put into operation in order to test their functional capability. Any use of the electrical device for purposes other than to test the mere functional capability of that device may render the consumer liable for compensation if this results in a loss of value of the goods.

The consumer is not liable for a loss of value if the online shop operator has not informed him/her of the existence of a right of withdrawal.

Tip

In the event of a dispute, the actual amount of compensation to be paid by the consumer is determined by the competent court. It is of course always possible to reach an amicable settlement on the amount of compensation to be paid with the online shop operator before taking legal action. Further information and advice is provided by the Verein für Konsumenteninformationen (VKI) (Consumer Information Association).

There is no right of withdrawal in the case of, inter alia:

  • goods for which the price is dependent on fluctuations in the financial market which may occur within the withdrawal period
  • goods made to the consumer’s specifications or personalised for the consumer
  • goods which are liable to deteriorate or expire rapidly
  • alcoholic beverages, the delivery of which can only take place after 30 days and the price of which is dependent on fluctuations in the market
  • newspapers, periodicals or magazines (with the exception of subscriptions)

If the consumer is supplied with unsolicited goods (provided that this is not due to an error) by a trader, they do not have to be paid for. The unsolicited goods can also be kept or simply discarded; the consumer is not obliged to return them. In the case of an erroneous dispatch, however, the consumer must inform the trader or return the goods to him/her.

Further links

Verein für Konsumenteninformation (→ VKI)German text

Legal basis

Fern- und Auswärtsgeschäfte-Gesetz (FAGG)

Translated by the European Commission
last update: 16 February 2021

responsible for content: Federal Ministry of Justice

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