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Consumer Protection in Cyprus when buying Goods

A number of laws dealing with Consumer Protection in Cyprus aim to safeguard consumers’ interests when they are buying goods. The laws offer protection in a number of different circumstances irrespective of whether the goods are faulty – for example the consumer may be able to return goods just because he does not want them.

In this article we will discuss the rights of the Consumer when the consumer buys goods.

What are Consumer Goods

Firstly, however we need to explain what are considered goods for the purposes of consumer protection. “Consumer Goods” are defined in the Cyprus Law on the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees of 2000, (which implements Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999),  as any tangible movable items.

The same definition is found in the Cyprus Law on Consumer Rights of 2013 which implements Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights.

The right of the Consumer to be informed

Under the Cyprus Law on Consumer Rights of 2013, the consumer has the right to be informed when performing a purchase. For example, the trader has an obligation to inform the consumer of the main characteristics of the goods, the identity of the trader, the total price of the goods, the arrangements for payment, delivery and performance, the duration of the contract if applicable etc. In case the sale of goods is a distance or an off-premises sale, then additional information must be given. These include, the cost of using the means of distance communication as well as certain information relating to the consumers’ right of withdrawal.

It should be noted that “distance contracts” are defined as contracts concluded between the trader and the consumer under an organised distance sales or service-provision scheme without the simultaneous physical presence of the trader and the consumer, with the exclusive use of one or more means of distance communication up to and including the time at which the contract is concluded. Such contracts include internet purchases from the website of the trader (e-commerce).

“Off premises contracts” are contracts between the trader and the consumer which are concluded in the simultaneous physical presence of the trader and the consumer in a place which is not the business premises of the trader or, for which an offer was made by the consumer in the physical presence of the trader in premises other than the business premises of the trader or, contracts concluded on the business premises of the trader or through any means of distance communication immediately after the consumer personally and individually addressed in a place which is not the business premises of the trader in the simultaneous physical presence of the trader and the consumer or, contracts concluded during an excursion organised by the trader with the aim or effect of promoting and selling goods or services to the consumer.

Consumer Rights when buying goods in general

Our laws on consumer protection give further rights after the consumer has bought the goods. In case the goods are faulty, the consumer has the right either to have them repaired or replaced by the trader, to request a partial reduction in the price/refund, or to return the goods and claim a full refund.

Additionally, in cases where the consumer has bought the goods online (distance contract) or through an off-premises contract then the consumer has an additional right to return the goods irrespective to whether the goods are faulty or not. We discuss the following rights in turn. 

  • Rights of repair, replacement, reduction in price, return.

When a consumer buys faulty goods, he has the right either to terminate the contract of sale (if this right is exercised early on), or to request its repair or replacement from the trader. The right to repair can be used whenever its exercise is reasonable. For example, it would be unreasonable to request the repair of a very cheap or difficult to fix item (such as a DVD). In such a case the consumer can request the replacement of the item with a new item. Such remedies must be offered free of charge to the consumer.

If both repair or replacement are unreasonable or if they would cause significant inconvenience to the consumer, or the seller has not completed the repair or replacement within a reasonable time, then the consumer has the right to request a reduction in the price.

In case the trader refuses to provide a reduction in the price, then the consumer has the right to rescind the contract – i.e. terminate the contract and request a full refund.

It should be noted that the rights mentioned above are available only when the lack of conformity becomes apparent to the consumer within 2 years after the date of delivery. Delivery in this case means actual delivery to the buyer.

These rights cannot be limited in any way under the contract – and a provision in the contract which limits such rights will be considered void.

  • Right of Withdrawal

Under the Cyprus Law on Consumer Rights of 2013, in case the contract is an online (distance) or off-premises contract, the consumer has the additional right of withdrawal. This right can be exercised irrespective of whether the goods are faulty or not provided that it is exercised within 14 days from the date of actual delivery of the goods.

The idea behind a right of withdrawal is that the consumer is not able to see the goods before concluding the contract. It is for this reason that the consumer should be allowed to test and inspect the goods he has bought to the extent necessary to establish the nature, characteristics and the functioning of the goods. The Consumer Rights Directive states that the rule is also applicable to off-premises contracts because of the potential surprise element and/or psychological pressure inherent in off-premises contracts.

In case the trader does not inform the consumer of the right of withdrawal, then the right will remain applicable for one year. i.e. in case a consumer buys a TV online where he has not been informed of his right of withdrawal, he will be able at any time within one year after delivery, to return the TV and get a full refund.

 

This article is given for information purposes only and it does not constitute legal advice. Please give us a call if you would like to book a consultation with a specialist in this area from our office.