Long Distance and Similar Contracts

N.B. this page is only valid for the contractual relationship between a professional vendor and a consumer. Even a one-man company can be a “consumer”.



Following §13 BGB, a consumer is a person that signs a contract not for professional reasons. So, if you run a business and buy something to be used at home, you are to be considered as a consumer.

Shucks, I just bought something on the Internet and now I see I can’t use it all. Can I return my purchase?

If you – as a consumer – return it in 14 days then you do not have to keep it and can get your money back. This is only valid for long distance purchases from professional vendors (§312d BGB). Upon purchase, you are to be instructed that you have the right to return what you purchased within two weeks, if you were not instructed then the law grants you a year time to return the thing you bought. If the vendor is a private person then you have no right to return the product from any long distance sale.

Yesterday, I was lured into signing a subscription for a TV magazine. I signed the subscription because the poor guy at the door was unemployed and begged to earn some money. I felt sorry for him. After receiving the magazine four weeks after I signed the order, I changed my mind. Looking at the order, I noticed a tiny sentence giving me two weeks to cancel. There was a line to sign, but I didn’t. Can I get out of the contract?

In your special case, you will be able to stop the subscription. Nevertheless, you will have to pay for the copies received. Normally, you would have exceeded the two-week period set by the law. Not having signed that line, you can claim that you were not instructed that you would have had two weeks to change your mind. This implies by law that you have one-year to cancel the contract.

Additional information