Online shopping: “Coming soon” is insufficient as a delivery time for goods

An online shop is not allowed to sell goods with the indication “available soon” as a delivery period. What is still allowed now – and how retailers can solve the problem with an uncertain release date.

According to a current court ruling, the delivery specification “available soon” is insufficient. The Munich Higher Regional Court has decided that information about a delivery date should not be too vague. The North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center had sued the electronics chain Mediamarkt.

 

The lawsuit concerned a Galaxy S6, which customers were notified of in August 2016 – well after the start of sales – that it would be “available soon. Get a copy now. ”. However, the statutory information obligation of a seller in e-commerce states that he must specifically specify by when the goods will be with the customer. It is not mandatory to specify a specific day, but reference to the period in which the customer can expect the goods. The legal basis for this is the current version of the consumer rights guidelines from 2014. Various courts have assessed this in the same way in the past.

This is how dealers solve the dilemma with delivery times

However, this requirement cannot be implemented by retailers in all cases: the newly introduced smartphone, for which even the manufacturer does not yet specifically specify when sales will start in Germany, cannot be sold this way. If the retailer gives a date too far in the future, he runs the risk that the customer will buy elsewhere. If the date is too close in the future, the dealer will not be able to keep it and not only risk dissatisfied customers, but in the worst case also claims for damages.

Amazon solves this well with the clear description of a pre-order and an indication of when the product is expected to be available. The company makes it clear that the customer will not be charged until later and that the price will also be adjusted in favor of the customer in case of doubt: “Order now, we will notify you as soon as the item is available.”

Such a procedure is sensible when it comes to supposedly scarce goods, for which some customers want to hold the goods in their hands as early as possible and therefore order. Companies should also work with the phrase “reserve now” in order not to lose potential customers. Because this is how retailers generate at least one lead that shows that the customer is very interested in a certain item and wants to buy it as soon as possible. Basically, a customer usually has his 14-day or longer right of withdrawal anyway. Therefore, a generous attitude in this case also benefits the retailer.

But in the legal dispute mentioned above, the problem went beyond that: the date of the start of sales was well in the past. Mediamarkt itself apparently does not want to take action against the judgment. A Mediamarkt spokeswoman told dpa that the vague delivery instructions have not been used since January 2017, so that the subject of the lawsuit was settled .

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