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Cancellation right


When shopping as a consumer on the Internet with a trader within the EU you are normally entitled to cancel your purchase, which means that you may return the goods and get your money back without having to give a reason. The cancellation right applies to both goods and services.

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You have a cancellation right no matter which EU country you are shopping in, but the rules vary from country to country. In some cases you are protected by the Danish rules, and in others it is the legislation of the seller’s home country that applies. You are, for example, protected by the Danish rules if the sellers have carried out marketing aimed at the Danish market. The decision as to whether the seller’s marketing was aimed at the Danish market will be based on a specific evaluation, but indicators are a Danish-language website, prices in Danish kroner and delivery to Denmark.

How long is the cooling-off period?

In Denmark the cooling-off period is 14 days, but if you are trading on a foreign website it is often the legislation of the seller’s country that applies. However, the time-limit cannot be shorter than seven 7 weekdays from receipt of the goods. If you wish to know how long the cooling-off period is in another EU country you will find the answer in our overview of cooling-off periods in the individual EU countries.

If the seller’s marketing was aimed at the Danish market you are protected by the Danish rules, and the time-limit is fourteen days from receipt. The decision as to whether the seller’s marketing was aimed at the Danish market will be based on a specific evaluation, but indicators are a Danish-language website, prices in Danish kroner and the fact that the seller makes deliveries to Denmark.

In some cases, however, the cooling-off period may be as long as up to three months. See the section on the seller’s duty of disclosure.

How to cancel?

If you have bought goods on the Internet and subsequently wish to exercise your cancellation right you must return the goods to the seller within the cooling-off period. If you cancel a purchase you must pay for the return freight yourself. On the other hand, you have a right to repayment of the purchase price and any delivery costs within 30 days.

Under Danish law you may also exercise your cancellation right by not accepting the goods when they are delivered at your place, but you should bear in mind that it is still you who have to pay for the return.

If you have returned the goods within the prescribed period and they are – through no fault of yours – damaged or lost during transport, you will retain your cancellation right. It is therefore important that you get a date stamped receipt for your dispatch of the goods.

If you have bought a service you need only inform the seller that you wish to cancel the purchase within the time-limit. You can, for example, do this by email.

If Danish law applies to your purchase you have a fourteen-day cancellation right.

Please note that the seller may lay down restrictions on the extent to which you may open, examine or use the item if you want to keep your cancellation right. However, you must be informed of this before the agreement is made.

In Denmark the Consumer Contracts Act says that it must be possible to return the goods in essentially the same state and quantity. However, the limits to the cancellation right can be interpreted differently from member state to member state. Check whether the terms and conditions of sale and delivery include any rules on this matter.

Remember that if you buy services the seller may ask you to give your consent to the cancellation right lapsing once the seller starts to perform the service.

It is up to you to prove that you have sent the goods to the seller, and it is therefore a good idea to obtain a receipt to this effect at the post office. More information about the various possibilities is available from Post Danmark.

The seller’s duty of disclosure

When you buy goods and services on the Internet the seller is to some extent subject to a duty of disclosure. For most purchases the seller is required to give you the following information on the date of delivery at the latest:

  • His name, main activity and a physical address to which you may complain
  • The nature and most important qualities of the goods or the service
  • The total price
  • Terms of payment, delivery, notice period, if any, etc 
  • Whether there is a cancellation right – both if there is and if there is not – and the related conditions.

The information must be given to you in writing – either on paper or by an email.

If you have received this information correctly, the cancellation right will run from the date of your receipt of the goods or from the date of making the agreement on the purchase of a service. Otherwise it will only run from the date of your receipt of the information, however, not more than three months after delivery of the goods or the making of the service agreement.

Restrictions on the cancellation right

The cancellation right does not apply to all types of purchases, nor all types of goods and services. There may also be cases where you are normally entitled to cancel but where the right lapses or where you and the seller may agree that it shall be shorter.

To have a statutory right to cancel you must have entered into a socalled distant selling agreement, i.e. an agreement entered into without you and the seller meeting physically. Therefore, you will have no cancellation right if you only obtain contact with the seller through the Internet but go to his place of business to buy the goods. If, however, you buy and pay for the goods on the Internet but pick up the goods at the seller, you will have a cancellation right, the decisive fact being that the agreement was made on the Internet.

If you have bought a service or a product which is to be specially made for you, the seller may agree with you that the cancellation right will lapse when the seller commences the work. This means that in some cases the cancellation right will be shorter than the 14 days.

Some goods and services are not subject to any cancellation right at all. This applies, for example, to hotel accommodation and other accommodation, transport or tickets to events such as concerts, theatre and sports events – boiled down, you can say, to services related to time and place. In these cases you are normally bound by the agreement and will therefore typically have to pay for hotel accommodation or train tickets booked by you even if you are prevented from using them.

Nor does the cancellation right apply to the delivery of foodstuffs.

As regards music, films or software, your cancellation right may lapse if you break the packaging/sealing. In Denmark, however, a seller is under an obligation expressly to point out to you this consequence of breaking the packaging/sealing.

Lastly, you only retain your cancellation right to the extent you can return the goods in essentially the same condition and quantity as they were in when you received them.

The other EU countries may have rules about the cancellation right which differ from the Danish rules, so it is a good idea to examine the terms and conditions relating to the cancellation right before shopping.

The cancellation right does not affect your right of complaint, and you may of course always complain about defects in the goods or the service.

Note: Be aware that the rules for purchase have been changed on 13 June. Please, contact Forbruger Europa for guidance if you have made a purchase after this date.

Last updated:   9. juli 2014

About European Consumer Centre Denmark

European Consumer Centre Denmark offers free advice for consumers regarding purchases in other EU-countries.
The centre is funded by the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority and the European Commission.