Topic consumer protection right of withdrawal

In the case of contracts that you conclude away from business premises, for example with a representative at the front door, on the way to the S-Bahn or on a coffee trip, you as a consumer generally have the option of withdrawing from the contract again for a certain period of time (right of withdrawal) (§ 312g of the German Civil Code (BGB )).

This right of revocation also applies to so-called distance contracts that are concluded over the phone, on the Internet or when ordering from a catalog.

You can find more information and tips on your rights as a consumer at:

As a consumer, how long can I revoke a contract??

Revocation is possible within a period of 14 days. There are different points in time for the start of the 14-day period, depending on the subject of the contract:

  • In the case of a sales contract, the period begins on the day following the day on which the goods are delivered in full. If Mrs. Huber has to return the shoes on 1. October receives the red shoes ordered online, her revocation period begins the day after that. Until the 15. October, midnight, she can then declare to the supplier that she does not want to keep the shoes. For the declaration of revocation, the date on which Ms. Huber duly made the revocation applies.
  • If the goods are delivered in several partial packages, the period begins on the day following the day on which the last package was delivered. So if Mrs. Huber orders a set of garden furniture and it is delivered in several packages, the withdrawal period for all parts of the furniture set starts only one day after the last package has arrived at her home.
    Exception: If you have concluded a contract for a newspaper subscription or the regular delivery of other goods over a fixed period of time, the cancellation period begins when you receive the first delivery.
  • In the case of a service contract, i.e. when Ms. Huber z.B. commissioned a gardener for their garden, and in the case of a contract for the supply of gas, water, electricity or district heating, the revocation period begins to run on the day after the conclusion of the contract, Section 356 (2) number 2 BGB i.V.m. Section 187 (1) BGB

In addition, the seller must inform you about your right to cancel the contract. Ms. Huber must therefore receive a revocation instruction from the seller. Only when she has received this information does the period for revocation begin.

In the case of an off-premises contract, you must receive the cancellation information on paper or, if you agree, on another durable medium (e.g. a computer).B. Fax, CD-ROM or e-mail ) received.

In the case of distance contracts, i.e. contracts concluded over the phone, on the Internet or by ordering from a catalog, the entrepreneur must offer you the information in such a way that it is suitable for communicating the order process. When ordering online, the website should inform you about the right of withdrawal. In the case of an order placed by telephone, the entrepreneur can therefore also give you the cancellation instruction verbally. If you wish to order by catalog, the information is usually printed in the catalog.

But note: Also, if you have not been properly informed of your right of withdrawal, there is no "perpetual right of withdrawal". You can then still use your right of withdrawal for one year and 14 days. There is an exception in the case of contracts for financial services.

Special rules apply to contracts for financial services.

What do I have to do as a consumer to revoke a contract?

To cancel a contract, you must inform the seller that you wish to cancel the contract. It is not sufficient to simply return the goods ordered. You can carry out the revocation "form-free. This means that you can also declare it verbally or by telephone. However, it is advisable to declare the withdrawal by registered mail, fax or e-mail, so that you have proof in case of dispute.

What must be included in the cancellation notice?

You do not have to give a reason for your revocation. You only need to clearly state that you wish to revoke the contract. If you wish, you can also use the legal model withdrawal form for the withdrawal

However, it is not mandatory to use this form.

What happens after I have revoked the contract??

If you have revoked the contract in time, it is legally as if this contract never existed. For Ms. Huber, this means that she does not have to pay for her red shoes at all or that she gets back the money she has already paid for them. The shoes themselves must be returned within 14 days of declaring revocation.

In the case of a contract for the provision of services, a so-called value replacement must be paid for the services already provided up to the time of revocation. If Mrs. Huber decides that she does not need the gardener for her garden after all, but the gardener has already planted five flower beds, Mrs. Huber must pay him according to the value of his work . However, this only applies if Mrs. Huber has expressly requested the gardener to start providing the service before the end of the withdrawal period and the gardener has duly informed Mrs. Huber about the obligation to pay compensation for lost value.
The situation is similar for the supply of water, gas, electricity or district heating. Again, you must pay for what you have received so far.

In the case of contracts for financial services, services already received must be returned within 30 days at the latest.

Reimbursement of the purchase price

If you have already paid for the goods, the seller must refund your payment within 14 days. However, this only applies if he has received the goods back from you or you can prove that you have returned them (for example, with a proof of delivery from the parcel service). If you have not yet paid for the goods, you do not have to pay for them from the time of revocation either.

What happens if goods are broken or lost?

If ordered items are damaged on their way back to the seller by mail, the seller must still refund the purchase price to you, because the risk that the goods are damaged during the return shipment is borne by the seller (§ 355 paragraph 3 sentence 4 BGB ).

Exception: If something is broken in the mail because you did not pack the package or the goods safely, you have to pay for the damage to the goods.

Who pays the shipping costs?

In the event of a cancellation, the seller must also reimburse the cost of delivery to Ms. Huber’s home. However, if Ms. Huber keeps a dress and only returns the red shoes to the seller, she must pay the shipping costs for the delivery of the goods.

If Ms. HUber has chosen a special shipping method (for example, express shipping) that is more expensive than the cheapest standard delivery offered by the Internet provider, she must pay the price difference between the cheapest and self-selected, special shipping.

Who pays the cost of returning the goods?

A special regulation applies if the goods have already been delivered to your home at the time of the conclusion of the contract. This can be the case, for example, in the case of a representative visit, where the representative has brought the goods directly with them. If the goods are too large or bulky to be returned by mail, the seller is obliged to collect them from you at his own expense.

As a consumer, do I have to expect additional costs when revoking the contract??

Under certain circumstances, you are obliged to pay compensation to the seller in the event of revocation. Here, too, a distinction is made according to the type of service:


In the case of a purchase contract, compensation is due if the goods have lost value because you did not handle them carefully. In concrete terms, this means that you are allowed to unpack the goods in order to check their condition, properties and functionality. You should handle the goods in the same way as when purchasing in the store. For example, you may only try on a piece of clothing, but not wear it for a longer period of time. Prerequisite for the value replacement obligation is, however, that the entrepreneur has informed you before the conclusion of the contract also again by mail or e-mail about it. So you should look at, check and handle the goods with great care during the withdrawal period, so that the seller can not claim compensation for lost value.

Services or supply of water, gas, electricity or district heating

In the case of a contract for the provision of services or for the piped supply of water, gas, electricity or district heating, as a consumer you only have to compensate for the services already provided up to the time of cancellation. In concrete terms, this means that you must pay for what you have received up to that point. However, this only applies if you have expressly requested the seller to begin performance before the end of the cancellation period. For off-premises contracts, you must have sent this request on a durable medium (i.e., for example, on paper, a CD-ROM, or by e-mail ). However, even in this case, the obligation to pay compensation only exists if the provider has properly informed you of your right of withdrawal and the obligation to pay compensation for lost value before the contract was concluded. The calculation of the value replacement is based on the agreed total price. The bottom line is that the service already provided must always be paid for. However, if the total agreed price is disproportionately high, the compensation for lost value should be calculated on the basis of the market value of the service provided.

When do I have no right of withdrawal as a consumer?

A right of withdrawal only exists if it is provided for by law or has been contractually agreed upon. It is provided for by law in particular for contracts concluded away from business premises and distance contracts. However, there are still numerous exceptions: There is no right of withdrawal for the following contracts:

  • Building and land purchase contracts
  • Package travel contracts concluded online (§312 para. 7BGB )
  • Passenger transportation contracts (for example, cab rides)
  • medical treatment contracts
  • Contracts where the service is provided and paid for immediately and costs no more than 40 euros
  • Contracts for the delivery of custom-made goods (e.g.B. custom-made shirts, individually embroidered or printed goods) or quickly perishable goods (e.g.B. Food)
  • Contracts for the delivery of newspapers and magazines (with the exception of subscription contracts)
  • Contracts for the delivery of sealed CDs or DVDs, if the packaging seal has already been removed
  • Contracts for the delivery of sealed goods that are not suitable for return for reasons of hygiene if the seal has been removed (z.B. cosmetics, diapers)
  • Certain service contracts, for example, in the areas of accommodation, transport of goods and car rental, if the contract provides for a specific date or period of time for the provision of the service.

A list of all exceptions can be found in Section 312g (2) of the German Civil Code (BGB) .

In addition, the right of withdrawal expires in the case of a contract for the provision of services if the entrepreneur has provided the service in full. The prerequisite is that the entrepreneur has begun with the execution of the service only after you have given your consent and at the same time confirmed that you are aware of losing your right of withdrawal with the complete execution of the service. This may be the case, for example, when downloading an eBook.

In the case of a contract for the provision of financial services, the right of withdrawal does not expire until the contract has been fully performed by both parties.

In the case of a purchase in a store, the right of withdrawal is not given. Any return of the goods is done there purely as a gesture of goodwill.

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