The department headed by Minister Alberto Garzón makes this warning after decreeing the new measures related to capacity and indoor establishments as a result of the pandemic caused by Covid-19 and due to the foreseeable increase in online purchases for this reason.
According to the latest survey by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) on the use of ICT in Spanish households, almost 20 million people have purchased products and services online in the last three months, with clothing, footwear and accessories being the products that were purchased the most (7.2 points higher than in 2020).
Given this, the department warns that both payment policies, such as return and guarantees, must be maintained in both channels during this sales period under the same conditions as the rest of the year.
This means that physical and digital establishments, among other obligations, have to accept the means of payment that they habitually use (card, cash or financed) and maintain the same repayment terms.
In the case of online purchases, there is also the right of withdrawal: a period of 14 days in which the product can be returned without having to state any reason or assume cost.
In addition, the ministry warns that, when purchasing products or services online, there are other aspects that consumers must take into account in case of possible claims.
Not surprisingly, according to the INE, delays in delivery (in 28.7% of cases of online purchases), technical failures of the websites and their lack of usability (16.4%) and the difficulty of finding information on guarantees or other legal rights (15.1%), have been the most frequent problems that Internet users have faced in the last quarter.
Regarding guarantees, the ministry recalls that, since 1 January, there are already three years during which companies are obliged to repair or replace the product or service purchased by the customer in case of disagreement.
Important aspects in case of conflict
During sales, the start and end dates of which must be prominently advertised at all times, establishments have the following obligations:
- Label the discounted products clearly and differently from the rest, including the original price plus the reduced or the discount percentage.
- Do not offer as discounted products those that have defects or are defective.
- Have sufficient stock of discounted products or services, depending on the importance of the advertising carried out.
For their part, consumers must keep the purchase receipt or invoice, since it will be the necessary documentation to exercise any right of return or guarantee execution.
In the event of conflicts, the ministry recommends going to the Consumer Services of the different autonomous communities, the Municipal Consumer Information Offices (OMIC) of the town councils or the Consumer arbitration boards that exist throughout the territory both regionally as well as local.
The arbitration system is an extrajudicial conflict resolution mechanism, of a binding and executive nature for consumers and companies, which facilitates and expedites the protection of the rights of consumers and, especially, of the most vulnerable, since it is about a free system.