An additional effect of the coronavirus pandemic is the increased popularity of online shopping. And for the Municipal Consumer Ombudsman, this means a new range of contentious issues to resolve.
The regulations state that a consumer can return goods purchased "remotely" without justification – within 14 days from the date of their receipt (i.e. removal from the parcel locker, collection from the courier, etc.). Since last year, this provision also applies to micro-entrepreneurs operating a sole proprietorship business, who have bought goods "on company account" – unless a purchase is "directly related" to the profile of their activity.
Many disputes concern the issue of when the goods arrive damaged, although the packaging is in good condition. The consumer accuses the seller of having sent damaged goods, and the seller claims that the damage occurred in transit or at the consumer's premises. The situation can also be reversed – a consumer sends back the goods, and the seller refuses to accept them, claiming that the goods are damaged, dirty, etc.
Such situations are very difficult to assess - the Municipal Consumer Ombudsman Małgorzata Rothert admits. – In the case of more valuable purchases, it is worth unpacking the parcel in the presence of a courier.
The Consumer Rights Act also defines exceptions when the return of goods purchased "remotely" is not possible. For example, it is not possible to return goods that have been "manufactured to the consumer's specifications" or serve to "satisfy their individual needs".
Last year, the advice of the Municipal Consumer Ombudsman was used by approx. 10 thousand inhabitants of Warsaw. 2.5 thousand formal applications were received, and the Ombudsman has drawn up 1850 applications to entrepreneurs. A record number of 37 court cases involving the Ombudsman were initiated, and the Ombudsman provided assistance to consumers in 110 cases before the court.
The office of the Municipal Consumer Ombudsman is located in Warsaw at ul. Canaletta 2. Working hours: Monday from 8:00 to 18:00, Tuesday-Friday from 8:00 to 16:00 Telephone: (+48) 22 44 33 444. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. More consumer information can be found at um.warszawa.pl/waw/konsument.