Protection of consumer rights and the obligations of the entrepreneur

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Customer, consumer and buyer are terms closely related to sales. However, the customer will not always be the consumer. The Act on the protection of consumer rights is to guarantee the safe conclusion of sale and purchase contracts between natural persons and entrepreneurs. It sometimes happens that entrepreneurs, using their dominant position on the market, provoke the client to make a decision to conclude a contract that is inconvenient for him. Another aspect that requires supervision is online sales on a large scale. The e-commerce market is booming. The Consumer Rights Act of 2014 lays down provisions on the conclusion of contracts between entrepreneurs and consumers, but it specifically addresses the issue of off-premises and distance contracts. Check what is the protection of consumer rights.

Protection of consumer rights - who does it concern?

Protection in the field of the protection of consumer rights is provided to a natural person who performs a legal transaction with the entrepreneur (purchase and sale contracts). This also applies when an entrepreneur is also a party, but he makes a purchase not directly related to his business. This means that if, when purchasing goods for personal use, e.g. by buying coffee for the home, and not supplying it to the office, the entrepreneur gains the status of a consumer in this situation.

The entrepreneur offering the product is obliged to comply with the rules and regulations on consumer protection. It is any civil law entity that conducts business activity on its own behalf. The forms of economic activity in the Polish legal system include sole proprietorship, civil partnership, general partnership, partnership and joint stock companies. A company is a colloquial name for a business activity, which in the light of the law is only an element of the company - or more specifically - its name.

To sum up, a consumer is a natural person who purchases a product from an entrepreneur, for his own use, not related to his business activity. The customer can be both a natural person and a legal person purchasing office supplies from another entrepreneur. It will then not be a consumer, but an equal contractor.

What is the protection of consumer rights?

The most important aspects of consumer protection include:

  • accurate information about the subject and content of the contract,

  • openness of data about the entrepreneur,

  • counteracting behavior that worries the consumer.

One of the objectives of consumer protection is to respect the rights to his freedom, freedom of will - expressed in making a decision to buy a product. Such will may be manifested in the willingness to return a product ordered online that did not live up to expectations. This will also manifests itself in the willingness to use the product in accordance with the contract, i.e. the possibility of complaining about the defective subject of the contract.

Moreover, legislators ensure that the consumer is well informed about the context and effects of the concluded contract. His decision must be conscious.Errors in declarations of will may affect the validity of the concluded sales contract and have an absolute effect in the form of annulment of the sale and purchase contract or rebuttable - evading the legal consequences of its conclusion. This means that there is no need to fulfill the concluded contract.

The purpose of consumer rights protection is, inter alia, that the consumer is not burdened with an obligation to make a payment that he or she did not know about or without his express consent. It must therefore be concluded that the ordered goods are not subject to the payment obligation. This is the trader's risk.

It is also important to protect private life. Popular spamming or mailing along with the processing of personal data may violate the right to privacy and protection of personal data of each person.

Protection of consumer rights and prohibited contractual provisions

It often happens that an entrepreneur who has a dominant position in the market does not respect consumer rights. Individual complaints to the Commissioner for Consumer Protection and Competition do not result in the failure to act. It is worth paying attention to the legal provisions regulating the obligations of the entrepreneur. Below are some guidelines for traders:

  • the price must be formulated unambiguously (the price on the label is a binding price, the offer given to the consumer is accepted by the consumer when he decides that the price suits him and decides to buy the product)

  • the provisions of the contract may not be formulated in a manner that is contrary to good morals (it is required that a certain savoir vivre should be maintained, e.g. not classifying customers, avoiding degrading or derogatory treatment of them, not creating marketing that may lead to exploitation)

  • the sales contract may not grossly infringe the customer's interests (provisions in the contract limiting the period of liability for physical defects of the product under the warranty will be invalid).

What are disallowed clauses?

These are the records that:

  • limit or exclude the liability of the entrepreneur (the provision that after leaving the cash register, the complaint will not be considered in violation of the law, the entrepreneur does not have to accept the returned goods, but can never refuse to accept it if it is defective and the warranty period has not expired, i.e. the 2-year period protective for the goods sold),

  • provide entrepreneurs with control over the content of the provisions and the performance of the contract,

  • enable the entrepreneur to shape unfavorable conditions,

  • violate the contractual balance (they put the entrepreneur in a privileged position).

The above-mentioned clauses, if used in the contract, are not binding on the consumer. This means that the concluded contract is valid, but the provisions containing provisions that violate the consumer's rights, i.e. prohibited clauses are not applicable. Therefore, the entrepreneur will not be able to rely on them in the case of pursuing claims under the contract, as the client signed the provisions, so he knew what he was agreeing to. There is no equality of the parties as in civil law, where the parties are free to shape the provisions of the contract. The consumer is supported by the legislator, knowing that the consumer has a weaker position as a party to the contract in the contract with the entrepreneur.

Which bodies work to protect consumer rights?

Courts perform incidental control. Any person who believes that their rights as a consumer are violated may apply to the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, the consumer ombudsman or a non-governmental organization about statutory activities related to the protection of consumer rights.

The main information obligations of the entrepreneur

At the latest when the consumer expresses his will, i.e. decides to choose a given product, the entrepreneur is obliged to inform him about, first of all, about:

  • the main features of the benefit,

  • your identifying data,

  • the total price or remuneration (including taxes) for the product / service,

  • the method and date of performance and the complaint procedure,

  • responsibility for the quality of the service,

  • after-sales service content and warranty,

  • the duration of the contract - in the case of a contract for an indefinite period,

  • automatic extension (also on the grounds and method of termination of the contract),

  • digital content interoperability, i.e. hardware and software requirements.

The protection of collective consumer interests, as provided for in the above-mentioned Act, does not exclude protection under other acts.