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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Dropshipping? Check your online seller what rights you have as a consumer

< previous | next > 07.12.2020

Dropshipping? Check your online seller what rights you have as a consumer
  • "Straight from a overseas manufacturer, at affordable price”. "Our retailers from Asia”. "The customer is an importer of goods”. Before you use the offer of the on-line store that uses such slogans to encourage you to do shopping - check what rights you have.
  • Pay attention to the details of the trader, its registered seat, delivery time. Make sure you do not deal with a mere intermediary who is not responsible for anything.
  • Download a presentation and find out which provisions in the on-line stores' terms and conditions are beneficial for consumers and which one you would better avoid.

This year, many people will order Christmas gifts on-line to minimize the risk of coronavirus infection. Some of them may be imported from outside the European Union by sales platforms operating in the dropshipping model. In such a model, the consumer has to deal with two traders. The first one is usually an on-line store registered in Poland. The second one is most often an entrepreneur based in the Far East, e.g. in China. Before buying anything, you should check in the terms and conditions who is really the seller and what the Polish store is responsible for. If the seller is based in Asia, we should be aware that we may encounter problems in enforcing our consumer rights.

“I urge consumers to pay attention to who they actually conclude an agreement with and who is responsible for its execution. If the website or the terms and conditions of the website contain provisions such as "Asian seller of goods" or "customer as an importer of goods pays customs duties", alarm bells should set off for the consumer. If they decide to make a purchase, they must be aware that in case of problems with e.g. shipping or faulty goods, they will file a complaint in Asia and may have problems with enforcing it. UOKiK experts verified the regulations of stores operating in the dropshipping model. I encourage you to read and check which provisions of the regulations are safe for consumers and which ones should be avoided,” says Tomasz Chróstny, President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.

Dropshipping variants

When we do shopping in an on-line store that is registered in Poland (entrepreneur A) but offers goods imported from a foreign entity (entrepreneur B) the following three main configurations are possible:

  1. Entrepreneur A is a seller and entrepreneur B is a supplier. This situation is most favourable for consumers, as the Polish company is responsible for everything and Polish consumer law applies. Before the transaction, you can check the trader and, in case of any problems, pursue your claims against the store, which is located on site.
  2. Entrepreneur A is an intermediary, but acts for and on behalf of the consumer, and entrepreneur B is a seller. In this option, the Polish store clearly indicates in its terms and conditions that it takes on some or all of the seller's obligations. Let see which ones. The optimal scenario for the consumer is that it is the Polish entrepreneur who is responsible for e.g. defects of the goods under warranty, for delivery of purchases within a certain period of time or for taking returns in case of withdrawal from the agreement.
  3. Entrepreneur A is an intermediary only and entrepreneur B is a seller. This is the most common and least favourable situation for consumers. The intermediary has only such obligations towards them as stipulated in the terms and conditions. Sometimes no obligations at all are stipulated for. In this option, consumers often are solely responsible for sending products back or making complaints to remote countries, where different regulations may apply.

“I urge Polish entrepreneurs to use templates that are friendly, beneficial and transparent for consumers, to take on the obligations of sellers regarding complaints or withdrawals when drawing up their on-line stores' terms and conditions. Such an approach will pay off for them. Given the high competition on the e-commerce market, consumers will appreciate that they are not sent back to China with their problems and will be more willing to use the offer of reliable stores,” says Tomasz Chróstny, the President of UOKiK.

The President of UOKiK warns - buying goods on-line? Check if:

  • Terms and conditions are available on the store's website. If not, you should definitely not buy there, as you do not know what your rights and obligations are. If yes, read them carefully and pay attention to who is the contractual party (seller).
  • The website includes complete and full details of the seller. Missing the full name, registered office or contact details may mean that the store is trying to hide something from you, e.g. that it is located outside the EU. It is a statutory obligation to provide the data and address of an entrepreneur or an entrepreneur on whose behalf its acts. Do not buy from unreliable entities.
  • Is it based in the European Economic Area - in such a case, very similar consumer laws will apply as in Poland, and the European Consumer Centre operating at UOKiK will assist in pursuing claims. More inquisitive consumers can also check whether the store has its business activity registered in the EEA.
  • How long you will wait for delivery. According to EU regulations, the goods should be shipped within 30 days. Extending this term may be a signal that we are dealing with dropshipping.
  • The store enjoys a good reputation - if there are no negative comments on Internet forums or independent opinion portals. Also pay attention to the timeliness of opinions, especially to the most recent dates of the positive comments posted. It happens that scammers impersonate or buy websites of legal, honest on-line stores that used to operate in the past, taking advantage of their good reputation.
  • Low price? Make sure that it does not deviate too much from the market value, check if it includes customs and tax.
  • In the case of a withdrawal form the agreement, check the goods return address.

Remember, it is the seller who is responsible for the goods offered. Unfortunately, in the case of entrepreneurs based in e.g. Asian countries, withdrawal and complaints may be difficult and money refund may prove impossible.

What to do if you are dealing with a dishonest on-line trader:

  • You paid with a card? You can get your money back with the so-called chargeback procedure. File a complaint to your bank.
  • Suspicious website? Notify the hosting company or the domain name registrar. You can check their data on the website: www.dns.pl or whois.domaintools.com (for foreign domains).
  • In case of fraud, notify the law enforcement agencies - police, prosecutor's office.

For more information and examples of e-stores' terms and conditions, see presentation

Consumer support:

Phone: +48 801 440 220 or +48 22 290 89 16 – consumer helpline
E-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer ombudsmen – in your town or district
European Consumer Centre: 22 55 60 600 – in cross-border issues involving EU countries, Norway, Iceland and the United Kingdom

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files

 

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