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Right to exchange online trading

What rights you have as a buyer

Dr. Britta Beate Schön
Legal Expert As of April 8, 2021

Dr. Britta Beate Schön

Britta Beate Schön is responsible for all legal issues at Finanztip. The doctor of law and attorney was head of the legal department at financial service providers such as Telis Finanz AG and Interhyp. Before that, she taught and researched in Japan as a DAAD junior professor for German and European law. She completed her studies in Münster, Geneva, Regensburg and Leipzig. You can reach the author at [email protected]

  • When shopping online, you can cancel any purchase within 14 days.
  • The deadline runs as soon as you have received the goods. If the last day of the deadline falls on a public holiday or on the weekend, the deadline does not end until the next working day.
  • If the goods are defective, you must first request a repair or exchange. If the seller does not fix the defect, you can withdraw from the contract and claim your money back.
  • It is best to check the General Terms and Conditions of Sale (GTC) before ordering to see whether the seller will pay for the return shipping.
  • If you do not like the online purchase, cancel the contract within 14 days. You then have to send the goods back within the next 14 days.

Online mail order companies particularly like to advertise with discounts and bargain prices. But the goods sent do not always correspond to what you had in mind. That's why you should get your right and the main deadlines know.

What rights do you have when buying online?

With every purchase of new goods over the Internet, you have a right of withdrawal, because it is a so-called distance selling transaction. That means: You can cancel the order within 14 days without giving a reason (§§ 312g Abs. 1, 355 Abs. 1 BGB).

Declaration of revocation

You mustexplain clearlythat you want to withdraw. It is not enough to return the goods without comment within 14 days. You do not have to give a reason for the return. You can also cancel the contract if you have seen a cheaper offer from another provider (BGH, judgment of March 16, 2016, Az. VIII ZR 146/15).

A Declaration of revocation can read like this:

"I hereby revoke the purchase of the goods [object of purchase] ordered on [date]."

Then you have to enter your address details. You can also enclose the declaration of cancellation with the goods that you are sending back. There is a sample form for this from the legislature. The online shops must refer to this form before ordering. If you put the revocation in the package, you should also include it by email and ask the dealer for confirmation of receipt. Then nothing will go wrong.

Withdrawal period

You have 14 days to cancel the purchase. The period begins as soon as you have received the goods (§ 356 Paragraph 2 No. 1a BGB). If you only received a notification from the parcel carrier that you can pick up the parcel the next day or that it has been handed over to the neighbor, the deadline has not yet run.

If you were not informed or not correctly informed of your right to cancel when you placed your order, you have twelve months and 14 days to cancel the purchase - again from receipt of the goods (Section 356 (3) BGB). You do not have the right of withdrawal forever.


You have to return the goods within two weeks of the declaration of cancellation. The deadline is the date on which you brought the package to the post office. If you have already paid for the goods by credit card or PayPal, you must not wait until the money has been transferred back to you. The dealer may refuse to repay until you have proven that you have sent the goods (Section 357, Paragraph 4 of the German Civil Code). You don't have to accept a voucher.

Return costs

As a consumer, regardless of the value of the goods, you have the Return costs to wear. Unless the dealer has agreed to do this (Section 357 (6) BGB). Many providers offer this service. However, before placing an order, find out about the return costs, which are mentioned in the general terms and conditions of the online shop. Then you avoid unnecessary postage.

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What rights do you have when shopping in the store?

If you do not buy online, but in a store, it suits you no right of withdrawal to. Because you have the opportunity to take a close look at the goods in the store before buying. This is different with a purchase at a distance - as the buyer, you only see the products in the catalog or on the seller's website.

When shopping in the store, you have no right of exchange. You are then dependent on the merchant's goodwill. As an online buyer, you have more rights.

Click & Collect during the Corona measures

Order online and pick up in store - this is what many retailers who had to close their shops during the Corona period have to offer. This is now allowed in most federal states if the store has a hygiene concept.

Legally, such contracts stand between shopping in the store and pure online shopping; there are then no distance sellingif the dealer does not offer shipping and the purchase is only made when the goods are handed over. This applies, for example, to customers who sell their articles online just reserve.

This means: You can do your own picked up purchase not revoked, unless the shop has expressly granted you a right of withdrawal. Some offer that Online shops as an option. Then you can cancel the purchase via Click & Collect via the customer account or the website.

If you want to support your local dealer, then inquire whether he can offer you a Click & Collect Right of exchange admits. That would only be fair, because you can't really touch and try out your purchase when you pick it up. It looks different with offers over Click & Meet out. You will then make an appointment where you can go to the shop, especially to try on clothes that have been reserved beforehand. You do not have a right of revocation for such contracts.

What rights do you have in the case of defective goods?

If you find that the goods you have sent are defective or unsuitable for your purposes, you can get one revocation explain or a so-called Notification of defects to raise. The latter is useful if you want to stick to the purchase or if the withdrawal period has already expired. To do this, contact the seller. He - and not the manufacturer - is responsible for ensuring that the goods are free from defects.

If you simply no longer like the purchased item after 14 days, there is no material defect. You will then no longer be able to cancel the purchase.

Supplementary performance

If you have received the goods in defective form, you have a priority right to so-called supplementary performance (§§ 437, 439 BGB). This means that you can either request repairs or a defect-free replacement product. For example, if you buy a new DVD player and find that the laser scanner is not working with the first film, you can insist on an exchange or repair. Inform the seller about this and give him about two weeks' notice.

However, the supplementary performance finds its limit where it is associated with disproportionately high costs (Section 439 (4) BGB). In the case of expensive goods, the dealer will usually insist on repairing them. More than two attempts but usually does not have it for repairs.


If the dealer cannot fix the defect or cannot send you a functioning replacement, you can reduce the purchase price (§§ 437, 441 BGB). However, the law does not say how much this reduction can be. Just ask for a portion of the price you think is reasonable.

If the seller doesn't agree, you can remain persistent - After all, he has to answer for the lack. In order to avoid unnecessary legal disputes, you should try to find an amicable solution.


If the seller has not successfully improved, you can withdraw from the contract (§§ 437 No. 2 BGB). To do this, you write to the dealer that you want to withdraw from the contract due to the defect and request the purchase price back. At the same time you send the damaged goods back.


In order to be able to claim damages, you must have set a reasonable deadline for rectification. If the seller does not move within this period of time, you can insist on compensation (§ 437 No. 3 BGB). To do this, you must have suffered damage. For example, the seller must be liable for the Difference amountthat you may have paid because you bought the goods from a competitor and they were more expensive there.

If you have incurred transport costs, you can also claim them. Damage caused by the lack of other things or people must also be replaced. For example, if you have received a washing machine that is not working properly, you can also request that the destroyed clothing be replaced.

Warranty period

There is no specific deadline for reporting the defect. However, this should happen immediately after you have noticed the deficiency. The warranty rights from the purchase contract generally expire after two years (Section 438 (1) No. 3 BGB). This also applies to used goods (ECJ, judgment of July 13, 2017, Az. C 133/16).

The Liability period for used items however, it can be limited to one year. With a guarantee, the seller can grant longer warranty periods.

Burden of proof

If there is a dispute about whether the item had a defect from the start or whether you damaged the goods through improper use, the decisive factor is who has to prove what.

You can only assert warranty rights if the goods are already at the time ofDelivery inadequate was. During the first six months after purchase, this is assumed in favor of the buyer (§ 476 BGB). As a buyer, you do not have to explain the cause of the defect, nor that it falls within the seller's area of ​​responsibility (BGH, judgment of October 12, 2016, Az. VIII ZR 103/15).

Does the seller believe that the Deficiency later he has to prove it. He then has to prove that you used the object incorrectly, for example. You must provide proof in the period between the six-month period and the two-year warranty.

What applies to a purchase from private?

If you buy something used from a private person, you are legally in one worse position than when buying from a dealer. For example, if you have bought something privately on Ebay, the seller can exclude the warranty rights. This applies even if the purchase was very expensive - for example a used car.

It is different when buying a used car from a commercial used vehicle dealer. The entrepreneur can only contractually shorten the warranty from two years to one year, but your warranty rightsdo not exclude entirely.

But: What is in the item description must be correct. Otherwise the seller is also liable if he has excluded the guarantee. Such an exclusion does not refer to the so-called quality agreement, decided the Federal Court of Justice (judgment of November 29, 2006, Az. VIII ZR 92/06).

If the information in the description is incorrect, you as the buyer will get your money back. Provided that the seller does not manage to repair the goods (BGH, judgment of December 19, 2012, Az. VIII ZR 96/12).

What does a guarantee bring with a purchase?

Basically, you have to differentiate between warranty rights and a guarantee. Warranty rights are regulated by law. A guarantee, on the other hand, is one voluntary contractual commitment of the seller. It thus supplements the warranty rights. If the dealer has given you a guarantee, he is responsible for ensuring that the thing you bought works. Your seller may also have to take responsibility for defects caused by wear and tear that do not justify buyer claims under the statutory warranty rules.

You have a Suffragewhether you want to proceed on the basis of the guarantee or according to the statutory warranty rules. Often the guarantees of dealers and manufacturers only provide that the customer can request the rectification of a defect, but not withdraw from the contract. But if the warranty repairs by the dealer fail, the buyer can still withdraw from the contract - based on his statutory warranty rights.

The seller then has to go to the Guarantee conditions Clues. There it must also be stated for what duration and in what spatial scope the guarantee offers protection. The name and address of the guarantor must also not be missing. You can also request that the guarantee is given to you in writing or on another durable medium. A manufacturer's guarantee gives you an additional contact person whom you can refer to in the event of defects.

Dr. Britta Beate Schön

Dr. Britta Beate Schön

Britta Beate Schön is responsible for all legal issues at Finanztip. The doctor of law and attorney was head of the legal department at financial service providers such as Telis Finanz AG and Interhyp. Before that, she taught and researched in Japan as a DAAD junior professor for German and European law. She completed her studies in Münster, Geneva, Regensburg and Leipzig. You can reach the author at [email protected]

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