Updated last 26.03.2021
Online trade is a phenomenon, gaining increasing popularity and gradually establishing itself along the traditional forms of trade. When trading goods and services in electronic environment, most of the rules, applicable also to the physical trade at retail sites, also apply. Тhere are, however, a number of additional rules, intended to limit abuse and protect consumers.
What information should be provided to the consumer?
If you trade online, you should know that the Electronic Commerce Act (ECA) obliges traders to provide unobstructed, direct and permanent access for consumers and competent authorities, to the following information:
- Name of the company;
- Registered office of the company;
- The address, where the company exercises its activity, if different from the registered office;
- Contact details, including telephone number and email address;
- Data, regarding the registration with a commercial or another public register;
- If company’s activity is subject to control by a public authority – information regarding the authority, exercising such control;
- If a regulated profession is exercised – information about the chamber, professional union or organization, where the trader is a member or registered the professional title and the country, in which it is awarded, as well as reference to the applicable regulations regarding the right to exercise the craft or profession and instructions for the access thereto;
- Indication, if the company is registered under the Value Added Tax Act;
- other information, if required by a legal act.
The trader shall inform the consumers  in a clear, understandable and unambiguous manner of:
- The steps for concluding a contract in the online shop, including the moment, when the contract is considered concluded;
- Whether or not the contract, concluded between the trader and the consumer will be kept by the trader and what would be the method of access to it;
- Technical equipment for identification and correction of errors in the entered information (guidelines on changing already entered incorrect information, before signing the agreement – e.g., wrong delivery address or wrong telephone number);
- The language(s) of the contract.
You, as the trader, agree to provide clear information also regarding the key characteristics of all the offered goods and services. When the trader indicates prices in his online shop, these have to be clearly and understandably marked. Тhe trader must also indicate, whether or not the respective prices include all payable taxes, fees and expenses, forming the final price – e.g., whether or not the price includes VAT, whether or not the price includes the delivery, etc. (art. 4, para. 2 of the ECA), as well as what are the payment methods. Clear information should also be provided, regarding the delivery method for the offered goods and the price of delivery, if it is not included in the total price of the offered products.
The trader must also provide the consumer with the general terms and conditions, applicable to the conclusion of the contracts, so that the consumer may keep and reproduce them. For more information regarding the general terms and conditions see here. Тhe contents of the concluded contract must also be provided in the same manner (art. 9 of the ECA).
What rules must be observed when selling goods/services online?
When selling goods/services online, if the buyer is a consumer, the rules, applicable to remotely signed contracts, stipulated for in art. 47-61 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) shall apply.
A large part of the trader’s obligations are related to the provision of information to the consumer. For example, prior to concluding the contract, the trader shall provide the consumer, in a clear and understandable manner, with all the information for the main characteristics and features of the goods and services; trader name; trader’s head office and management address and other data for identification and communication; the end price of the goods or services with all taxes and fees included; the circumstance that additional expenses could be due for transportation, delivery or postal fees, when such expenses can not be reasonably calculated in advance; the conditions of payment, delivery, performance, the date on which the trader is obligated to deliver the goods or render the services, etc. Article 47, article 48 and article 49 of the Consumer Protection Act provides detailed description of the rules regarding the information, the trader should provide to the consumer and the manner of the provision thereof. This is important since it forms an integral part of the distance contract or of the contract outside of the commercial site.
At distance contracts, concluded electronically via internet site and which imposes an obligation on the consumer to make a payment, the trader shall ensure that when the consumer makes his order, the latter expressly confirms that the order is related to an obligation for payment on her/his behalf. When the trader fails to meet such requirement, the consumer is not bound by the contract or the order.
At conclusion of a distance contract by the telephone the trader have to confirm the offer made to the consumer on hard carrier. The consumer shall be bound by the offer only after signing it or after she/he has sent her/his written consent for the acceptance of the offer.
If you are a consumer, involved in online trade, you are entitled to withdraw from the contract within 14 days, without specifying any reason for that, without having to pay any compensation or indemnity to the trade (art. 50 of the CPA) .
If the consumer has exercised his right to withdraw from a remotely signed contract or from a contract, signed outside a retail site, the trader shall refund any and all amounts, received from the consumer, including all delivery costs, without undue delay and not later than 14 days, starting from the date of notification of consumer’s decision to withdraw from the contract (art. 54 of the CPA). Тhere are also certain limitations, applicable to the right to withdrawal from the contract – no withdrawal is permitted, if the nature of the goods purchased do not allow that (e.g., sound recordings, video recordings or computer software, newspapers, periodicals or magazines, custom-made goods or goods, made based on specific requests of the consumer).
The goods, ordered online must be delivered to the consumer within 30 days after the order. Failing to do that, the consumer may withdraw from the contract and request refunding of the amounts paid.
It is forbidden to offer and sign contracts remotely for the sale of prescription medical products (art. 58, para. 1 of the CPA).
What are the rules for e-commerce within the European Union (EU)?
Traders, using online platforms for trading, must observe the rules, set out in the recently introduced Regulation 2018/302 (EU). Тhe objective of this regulation is to eliminate unjustified discriminatory limitation of clients’ access to online platforms, based on clients nationality, place of residence or place of establishment. Тhe Regulation is applicable in the cases, when the trader and the client are situated in different EU Member States (art. 1).
Please, note that traders are prohibited from blocking or limiting clients’ access from other Member States to their online shop for reasons, related to client’s nationality, place of residence or place of establishment. Traders may not redirect their clients to a version of their online shop, different from that, which such client wants to access, as the sole exception is the case, when the client has expressly given their consent to any such redirecting (art. 3). Тhe Regulation imposes the application of the same general terms and conditions for access to goods or services for clients, irrespective of their nationality, place of residence or place of establishment. Traders must apply the same conditions regarding eligible payment methods and payment operations (art. 5).
How to maintain information arrays with consumer/client data?
When carrying out e-commerce the trader collects and processes personal data of his consumers and clients. All personal data must be collected, processed and managed in conformity with the rules of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). For more information regarding personal data protection see here.
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For more information on the applicable regulatory framework in this area, please visit the website of the Consumers Protection Commission.