Few words about consumers’ rights or What should you know about the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (Česká Obchodní Inspekce).

Many of us have got into a situation, when the phone rings and a nice (mostly) female voice, not giving an opportunity to say something, offers a very profitable and beneficial service or a product. What do you do in this case? Would you behave very politely – giving an opportunity to describe the product or service, and then – hang up the phone after refusing? Or you cut the conversation short in the middle of it? Or you could not resist such a nice offer from a pleasant voice and would agree accepting the pen with a name, super omega-3 or a free razor? If you, even in order not to offend the person on the phone, have agreed on a “free” product or special service, but now you do not know how to stop the transferring of money and accepting useless things due to the threats of the unscrupulous seller to make a claim against you in the court? Then, this article may be useful for you.

Let’s start with two basic laws governing rights of consumers in the Czech Republic:

  1. The Civil Code of the Czech Republic (No 89/2012 Coll), in which you can find not only provisions on the conclusion of contracts (including consumer contracts, or those, concluded remotely – via the internet or telephone), but also clauses on liability for a damage, caused by the defect of the product.
  2. The Law on Consumer Protection (No 634/1992 Coll), which imposes on the seller and manufacturer requirements on the good faith practice, informative obligations about the products and their features and quality, as well as instruction on the complaint procedures regarding the defect product.

In addition, there are number of specific laws relating to the issues of consumer rights.

The competent authority in the field of consumer rights in the Czech Republic is the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (Česká Obchodní Inspekce). Many people underestimate the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (CTIA), some people even never heard about it. Meanwhile, the CTIA is of great importance, as for the entrepreneurs, so for the consumers or “random” purchasers.

Nowadays, we can see many pictures of the goods, bought in the internet, which in reality are different from the product described in the e-shop. Maybe you also faced with such situationwhen you wanted to buy some dress, the size of which was too far from the mentioned one. So, what to do in that case?

Of course, if you have some entrepreneurial skills, you can re-sell it to somene else, whom the size will fit,or you can just have fun and post it in the internet sharing this sad, but also funny, incident.Or probably you would like to return the good, and ask your money back from the seller, or to exchange the good for a suitable one.

According to the Czech legislation, namely the Civil Code (Law No 89/2012 Coll) and the Law on protection of the consumer (No 634/1992), the consumer or the buyer/purchaser should be instructed about his rights to return the good he bought in the e-shop and withdraw from the purchase agreement within 14 days since the receipt of the goods.

If there is no such provision in the Commercial Conditions (Obchodní podmínky), the consumer can claim (stížnost)  it to the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (http://www.coi.cz/en/for-consumer/advice-information-consumer-rights/complaints-about-goods-and-services/), where CTIA in some cases can fine the seller up to 50 millions Czech Crowns for not following the legislation. However, it is not the only duty of the CTIA. The full list of responsible areas of CTIA can be found on its webpage (www.coi.cz). Information is provided both in Czech and English and CTIA post warnings about suspicious practices and violators on the webpage frequently.

The CTIA monitors and inspects businesses and individuals, who supply goods to, or sell goods on, the Czech market, provide services or similar activities on the domestic market, provide consumer credits, and operate marketplaces, unless, as a result of special legislation, these activities fall under the authority of another administrative institution.

In addition, it has the out-of-court dispute settlement or ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) – this is an instrument, which allows resolving the dispute between the entrepreneur and the consumer with lower financial costs and time required for the entire procedure. A typical consumer dispute – is over defective goods purchased in the store.

Let us return to the problem of already concluded agreement by the phone/internet… How to terminate it?

In accordance with the article 1829 par.1 of the Civil Code, the seller is obliged to inform the buyer about the possibility of cancellation of the contract within 14 days from the date of its conclusion, and without providing any reason (art. 1818). If the seller did not inform the consumer about it, then the period of cancellation can be extended by one year (art. 1829 par. 2).

It is recommended to write a letter of notice on termination of the contract/cancellation of the order (odstoupení od smlouvy/ odstoupení of objednávky), and send this letter with the notification (doporučeně, dodejka) to the address of the seller, together with copies of the sent invoices. You may also end this contract over the phone, if you can record the conversationas an evidence. However, in a case of the fraudster, the seller can use a fictious address, or the address may be somewhere far away, In such situation, do not send it back, but inform the competent organs about the case (could be not only the CTIA, but also police). You may also end this contract over the phone, if you can record the conversation as an evidence.

Finally, if the seller in the good faith will not take into consideration the mentioned will on termination of the agreement, then the behavior might be interpreted as an aggressive commercial practice, which could be fined up to 5 million CZK, in accordance with art.24 par. 1 (a) and par. 12 (d) of the Law on the consumer protection.

Disclaimer about the nature of the information contained in this article.

The information provided in this article is the general information, and does not constitute legal advice, and may be not valid in a particular situation. To obtain qualified legal consultancy, you should contact a lawyer with the provision of the necessary documents regarding the case. For example, by email: juristpraha@gmail.com.

This article was prepared on the basis of an analysis of legislative regulations for year 2016 (February 2017). Therefore, while using such information, should be considered the changes to be made to the legislation after that. This is translation of the article, which was published the first time on February 24, 2017, on the web page www.juristpraha.cz