Shopping in Poland. How to return goods to a Polish shop?
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Consumer vs. seller : returns and complaints

by Marta Pietrzak 

In the era of omnipresent consumerism, shopping becomes a way of life. In such a high frequency of purchasing, every consumer should know his rights, and most importantly, every consumer should know how to return goods or make a complaint.

The first and also the basic issue of consumer law is ‘Return the goods’. It should be noted that other rules apply to the purchase of goods from store and other to the purchase of goods at a distance:

1. If you buy goods directly (in store) – it is possible to turn previously purchased merchandise, but there must be a specific reason. Return of goods can be made if the product has a defect, and only with the consent of the vendor. Seller is not obliged to accept the return of non-defect goods because the client changed his mind or thing stopped him to please.

2. Another principle is valid for purchases at a distance (for example off-premises or via the internet) which nowadays it is becoming more and more popular – in this case, the consumer may cancel the sale-purchase contract within 14 days and at the same time consumer has the obligation to return the goods within 14 days.

Return the goods without giving a reason is possible only if the seller agrees on it. In accordance with Polish law, the seller is not obliged to accept the non-defect goods, but can do it. This practice leads many shops. However, these are only the internal arrangements of a store. Some stores make public information possible terms of return the goods without giving a reason, for example: 7, 10 or even 30 days. The main objective of such procedures is to encourage customers to make purchases. Statistics show that customers are much more likely to do shopping in stores where it is possible to return the goods.

With reference to above mentioned information, the consumer may return the goods only if there is a specific reason and only the consent of the seller, in some of the following situations:

– purchased goods are not fit for the purpose for which it is normally used,
– characteristics of the purchased goods do not correspond to properties characterized by this type of commodity or,
– the purchased product does not have the characteristics shown purchaser during shopping.

In addition, to return the defective goods, must meet two conditions:

– goods must be in perfect condition – it cannot be used and
– goods must be paid along with proof of purchase (receipt) and with all tags companies.

Moreover, it should also distinguish the aspect of returning the goods from the complaint. Many buyers equate a complaint with the return of the goods, which is totally incorrect.

Firstly, the complaint and return the goods have only one thing in common. This is a ‘defect of the purchased goods’. It means that both operations can be done only if the product is defective.

Secondly, return of goods is the seller, not the consumer, right. Consumers may return the defective goods, but only with the consent of the seller, while the complaint is a consumer right. Just the product has to be defective. Then the consumer can start the complaints procedure, seller agreement does not any matter.

Thirdly, return of goods concerns only the unused goods. The purchaser can return goods only if it has not used before. In the case of a complaint, the product can be used. Recognizing the consumer’s claims, salesman somehow finds that during using a product, it was revealed some non-conformity with the agreement (defects) which existed at the time of delivery of the goods.

Fourthly, the returns involve with the immediate return of cash by the seller to the consumer. The buyer returns the purchased goods to the seller, and the seller returns the money to the buyer for the goods purchased. The complaint does not involve an immediate cash return. In most cases, the complaint is not based on the reimbursement of cash, but only on the exchange of goods or repair. Consumer consisting complaint has the right to choose between the claim for repair or replacement. Termination of the contract and refund is possible if the seller does not comply with the request.

And how was it before?

According to the old law it was possible to return some of the goods within 5 days. Unfortunately, this type of legal solution still exists in the minds of many buyers in Poland. It must be remembered that this legal provision expired several years ago.

Marta Pietrzak
Lawyer, journalist, traveler. She loves Italian cuisine and oriental dishes. Specialist in Polish immigration law. Assistant of the Legal Aid Department at