Free delivery in the online store and return of goods
The customer's resignation from purchases in the online store requires, on the one hand, the return of the goods received, and on the other - the reimbursement of the received payments to the customer, including shipping costs. If the store offers free delivery of goods, this affects the settlement, even with those customers who did not use it and paid for the shipment. What are the costs of free delivery in the online store?
Right to return the goods
Consumers who bought goods in the online store have the right to cancel their purchases without giving any reason within 14 days of receiving the goods. The entrepreneur must then return to the consumer all payments received from him - including those intended for the shipment of goods. But there is an important exception to this rule. It is used, inter alia, in when the store offers free delivery.
When the customer has not chosen free delivery
The exception when the consumer does not have to reimburse the cost of shipping the goods from the store to the customer applies when the consumer has chosen a more expensive method of delivering the goods instead of the cheapest one offered by the entrepreneur. If the store offers delivery for PLN 0 - it is the cheapest delivery method offered by the entrepreneur.
In such a situation, the trader does not have to reimburse the consumer who has withdrawn from the contract for the additional delivery costs incurred by the consumer. This is due to Art. 33 of the Act on consumer rights. Additional costs should be understood as the difference in the amount between the method of delivery chosen by the consumer and the cheapest one offered by the entrepreneur for a given product.
The online store offers:
free delivery option - shipment takes place by courier with a delivery time of 2 days;
courier delivery for PLN 20 - shipment with the delivery time for the next day.
A time-conscious customer made purchases for PLN 120 and chose the courier delivery option for PLN 20. In total, he paid the entrepreneur PLN 140. After receiving the goods, he exercised the right to withdraw from the contract. The entrepreneur should return the consumer PLN 120 for the goods. He does not have to reimburse him PLN 20 for the costs of shipping the goods from the store to the consumer, because the consumer could choose a cheaper method of delivery (for PLN 0), but did not use it.
Free pickup is not free delivery
If the online store offers a personal pickup for PLN 0, it cannot be treated in the same way as a delivery for PLN 0 for the purpose of settling the return of shipping costs after the customer withdraws from the contract. Receipt of goods by the customer is not a way of delivering goods within the meaning of art. 33 of the Act on consumer rights.
The online store offers:
the option of collecting the goods by the consumer (PLN 0),
economy shipping (PLN 12),
priority mail (PLN 20).
The customer bought the goods for PLN 100, chose priority mail for PLN 20. After receiving the goods, he withdrew from the contract. The entrepreneur should return PLN 100 for the goods and PLN 12 for the shipment, even though the consumer paid PLN 20 for the shipment. This is due to the fact that the consumer could choose a cheaper delivery (for PLN 12), but did not use it. The entrepreneur does not have to reimburse him for additional costs associated with choosing a more expensive method of delivery. However, it cannot be assumed that the cheapest method of delivery in this case was personal collection for PLN 0 and refuse to refund any costs for the shipment - because personal collection is not delivery.
Free delivery in the online store from the amount of X
Shops that use free delivery often make it dependent on the fact that the value of the order exceeds a certain amount, e.g. PLN 100. Of course, they have the right to do so. However, this also affects the method of settling the return of shipping costs after withdrawal from the contract.
What if the customer made purchases for an amount that does not qualify for free delivery, incurs shipping costs, and then withdraws from the contract? He should be reimbursed the amount paid for the goods and for the delivery from the store to the customer. In such a situation, it cannot be said that the customer chose a more expensive method of delivery than the cheapest one offered by the store - because for this particular order it was not possible to use the cheaper (free) option.
The customer made purchases in the online store for PLN 80. The store offers the following delivery options:
free delivery for orders from 100 PLN,
economy shipment for PLN 12,
registered mail for PLN 20.
The customer chose an economic package for PLN 12 and paid the entrepreneur PLN 92 (for goods and shipment). After withdrawing from the contract, the entrepreneur should refund the customer PLN 92. The entrepreneur cannot refuse to return the shipment and claim that the cheapest method offered was free delivery and the customer chose a delivery “more expensive than the cheapest offered” - because the customer could not use free delivery when ordering.
Settlement of shipping costs for partial refunds
A consumer who bought several items during one purchase may withdraw from the contract in whole or only in part, giving up some goods. In such a situation, how to settle the return of shipping costs?
The client bought 3 products and paid PLN 300 for them. He chose a courier shipment for PLN 20 - it was the cheapest delivery method offered by the store. After receiving the parcel, the customer withdrew from the contract for two products, which cost him PLN 150. He also demanded the reimbursement of half of the shipping costs from the store to him (PLN 10).
In this case, the entrepreneur does not have to reimburse the customer for shipping costs. If the customer immediately bought only the product that he did not return, he would also pay PLN 20 for its shipping.
Loss of Right to Free Shipping on Partial Refunds
Cancellation of some products may also result in the loss of the right to free shipping. What if the customer ordered products for the amount eligible for free shipping, and then returned some of them, as a result of which the value of the retained products was lower than the amount of free shipping?
The store offers free delivery for orders from PLN 200. The customer bought 4 products for a total amount of PLN 220 and made the payment. The store sent the products to the customer, the cost of delivery (PLN 20) was covered by the store.After receiving the parcel, the customer withdrew from the contract for one of the products for PLN 25. The amount of purchases he did not give up is PLN 195 - too small for free delivery.
In this situation, the entrepreneur may request a refund of PLN 20 (value of the shipment) from the customer. In turn, the customer may request a refund of PLN 25 for the product he resigned from purchasing. In this situation, the entrepreneur may request the customer to pay PLN 20 for shipping the goods from the store to the customer, and then deduct this amount from the amount that the entrepreneur should return to the customer (PLN 25 for the returned product). After making the deduction, the entrepreneur should refund the customer the difference, i.e. PLN 5.
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Free shipping is not a free return
Offering free delivery by the online store is not tantamount to offering a free return of goods if the consumer withdraws from the contract.
The consumer has to pay for sending items back to the online store. The consumer can choose which courier or mail company to use when returning the goods - the entrepreneur cannot impose it on him, because the consumer covers the costs of returning the goods.
The consumer ordered the goods for PLN 120 and chose free delivery. After receiving it, he withdrew from the contract. The consumer must send the goods back - he chose a courier for PLN 30. He cannot demand a refund of these PLN 30 from the entrepreneur. The consumer is only entitled to a refund of PLN 120 for the goods.
The costs of returning the goods to the store may be borne by the entrepreneur if he forgot to enter in the store regulations or otherwise inform the consumer before making the purchase that the consumer bears the costs of returning the goods (in the event of withdrawal from the contract pursuant to Article 27 of the Act on consumer rights).
Free returns guaranteed by the terms and conditions
Some online stores offer the possibility of free return of goods - they undertake to cover the cost of returning the goods to the store if the customer is dissatisfied with the purchase. As a rule, the implementation of this right consists in the fact that the entrepreneur orders a courier at his own expense, who collects the goods from the customer and delivers them back to the store.
If the entrepreneur undertook to provide free returns, he must guarantee them on the terms set out in the store regulations or the promotion regulations. The consumer has the right to use this option.
What if the entrepreneur, after making the purchase by the consumer, removes the provision on free returns from the regulations? Such a change does not affect the rights of people who managed to buy goods under the old rules before changing the regulations. They retain the right to a free return.