EU regulations cause changes to online shopping return policies


Online shopping will face changes when the new EU regulations come into force on June 13, 2014. Both consumers and online shopkeepers should be familiar with the main points of the regulations. Finnish legislation has ensured that consumers have the right to return products free-of-charge in distance selling. In the law reform, the automatic free-of-charge return right is abandoned but the shopkeeper can still, if desired, offer their customers a free-of-charge return option. It is now even more important for the online store to inform the customer how returns should be made. The returns left for Posti must be prepaid in the future as well, either with a sender's customer return contract between the seller and Posti or with a postage fee paid by the consumer.

With the new regulations, the customer must always notify the seller about the return and the cancellation of the transaction. Simply not reclaiming the item or returning it is not sufficient to cancel the transaction. The consumer must make a cancellation notification to the online store within 14 days of receiving the delivery and return the item within 14 days of the cancellation notification (14 + 14).

- The changes require from both the seller and the consumer more mutual sharing of information than before. The benefit of online stores is that the communication between the customer and the store is easy. At Itella we also wish that consumers receive clear information on return policies. An online store should make it clear whether returning is subject to a charge or not and how it is done in practice, says business manager Anders Falck from Itella Posti.

The regulations concern distance selling, i.e. they cover all sales where the contract can be made without physically meeting (e.g. online and mobile site store or telemarketing).

Online store application for easy return process

As the changes require closer communications between the seller and the consumer than before, online stores can ease the process with an application which takes this into consideration. The Posti Maksuturva application for online stores by Itella and Suomen Maksuturva was developed for smooth management of online store payments and returns.

Posti Maksuturva offers online store customers a 24-hour self service channel where returns can be made reliably and safely. The application enables the customer to make a cancellation notification, required by EU regulations, electronically. The consumer can print an address label for sending returns from the online store. Reimbursements become faster with electronic return notifications and the payment is returned to the buyer after the seller verifies the reception of the product return. These features support fluent customer service in the online store.