Do you have to accept back an opened package product?

Publication date: 18 April 2019
A consumer may withdraw from a distance purchase within 14 days without giving any reason. An exception to this is that the returned product is permanently unsuitable. This means, it is impossible or very difficult to render the product suitable for sale again. This exception must be interpreted restrictively.

retour-pakket - weblijst

Products can be sent back when the packaging has been opened. The opening of the packaging must be necessary for testing the product. Only if a product cannot be resold, or is difficult to resell, this is not allowed. However, this is not easily accepted by the courts.

Our tips:

  • Take into account the strong right of withdrawal of the consumer.
  • Make it clear on the website when a product cannot be returned or when compensation has to be paid.
  • As a retailer, make a realistic assessment of whether returned products have become definitely unsuitable.

Consumers’ right of withdrawal

Within the European Union consumers have a right of withdrawal. This means, within a period of 14 days the consumer is allowed to revoke a distance contract and return a product without giving any reason. The reason is that in the event of an online purchase the consumer cannot physically see or check the products in advance.

This gives the consumer the opportunity to check or inspect a purchased product. This must be necessary however to check the nature, characteristics and functioning of the product. The consumer may check or inspect only in the same way he would be allowed in a physical shop. You can try on a garment but you are not allowed wear it for a long time. The products must also be inspected with due care.

Exceptions to the right of withdrawal

There are exceptions to this right of withdrawal. This concerns, for instance:

  • Digital products that can be copied (software, cd’s, e-books)
  • Products that have been made to measure upon request (tailor-made suit)
  • Newspaper subscriptions.

Another important exception concerns products which, for health reasons, may not be returned after breaking of the seal. For these products, it is impossible or very difficult for a seller to ensure that they can be resold. Think for instance of underwear and toothbrushes.

What is not definitively unsuitable for resale?

A recent ruling stipulates that a mattress can be returned even if the packaging has been opened. It is not unhygienic to sell a used mattress. After all, mattresses are used by hotel guests, there is a market for second-hand mattresses, and used mattresses can be thoroughly cleaned.

A mattress can be compared to a garment. It is almost impossible to test a product without physical contact. It is assumed that a seller can make these products suitable for re-sale by means of cleaning or disinfection. These are starting points to assess whether a product is definitively unsuitable.

Is the consumer liable for a reduction in value of a product?

The consumer is liable for the reduction in value of a product if he has treated the product differently from what was necessary to check it. However, even in the event of a reduction in value, the consumer retains his right of withdrawal.

More information?

Would you like to know more about your rights and obligations as an online seller? Or do you want to know more about consumer law? Please contact us:

    Share on social media

    • Retail
    • Real estate and rent

    Calculation of rent reduction due to lockdown

    16 September 2021

    How does the court calculate a lower rent due to the lockdown? Does online turnover count? Does it matter whether the tenant or landlord is large or small?

    read on
    • Retail
    • Employment law and dismissal

    Questions and challenges during COVID-19: Dutch employment law, tenancy law and contract law

    13 September 2021

    In this article, we will discuss several questions and challenges in the field of Dutch employment law, tenancy law and contract law during COVID-19.

    read on
    • Corporate law

    Is a management agreement an employment contract or a contract for services?

    26 August 2021

    Do the new rules of the Supreme Court for the assessment of employment contracts also have consequence for management agreements? Case law has not decided yet. This can be seen from the judgments of the Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal and the District Court of Midden-Nederland about the management agreement of the CFO of Volksbank.

    read on
    • Franchise, distribution and agency
    • Contracts

    Beware of vague wording in franchise agreements

    24 June 2021

    It is important to use clear and unambiguous language in agreements. This has once again been demonstrated by a recent judgement of the Supreme Court. Because of ambiguities in franchise agreements, franchisees of Albert Heijn may have lost millions.

    read on
    • Expats
    • Employment law and dismissal

    17 June 2021: Employment Webinar “Tricky sickness issues”

    17 June 2021

    If your employee reports sick, this may raise many difficult questions. What are your reintegration obligations during the sick leave period? What are you allowed to record about your sick employee with regard to the privacy legislation? We answered these and other questions during a webinar. Watch the video!

    read on
    • Fashion and luxury
    • Litigation

    The advantages of arbitration

    19 May 2021

    Proceedings do not always have to be in court. There are other ways to resolve legal disputes. An important and often also appealing alternative is arbitration. In particular if you are doing business internationally. What are the advantages of arbitration?

    read on
    • Art
    • Employment law and dismissal

    Russell Advocaten recommended by The Legal 500 2021

    20 April 2021

    Russell Advocaten has for the 17th consecutive year in a row been included in The Legal 500. We are pleased with the recognition for the quality of our legal services by experts and clients. Please read what they say about us:

    read on
    • Retail
    • Real estate and rent

    Tenant and landlord must share pain of lockdown

    30 March 2021

    When is a tenant entitled to rent reduction? How are the consequences of the coronavirus crisis shared between landlord and tenant?

    read on