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Overview of the main consumer rights in Switzerland

Learn what additional rights do consumers have and how to follow them in your sales business.
Consumer rights in Switzerland
21.05.2024

Consumer rights in Switzerland

Sellers of professional or private goods who sell to consumers in Switzerland are affected by these rights, taking into account all of the following rules: 

  1. Consumers are protected not only by the justice system, but also by consumer protection associations. 
  2. Non-professional consumers have difficulty interpreting ambiguous restrictive clauses, and so often do not consent to them validly, rendering them null and void. 
  3. Consumers have more rights than professional buyers, and your duty to inform them is more extensive. 
  4. Consumers are in principle protected by more favourable rules in their country of domicile, unless they travel abroad to buy, and international sales may therefore involve more extensive rights than are available in Switzerland. This is particularly true of the European Union, which gives consumers more rights. 

In what follows, we’ll outline the main legal rules you need to be aware of in terms of consumer rights in Switzerland. Here are the key points to remember: 

  • Firstly, it is important to clarify who the consumer is. He is a person who buys goods only for his own personal consumption, admittedly he may resell them to a third party at a later date, such as a second-hand car, but without the resale being the main reason for the purchase. 
    • A company never acts as a consumer, but the situation of a sole trader or freelancer is more complicated. 
    • Indications that the buyer is more of a professional include registration in the commercial register, VAT registration, publication of the commercial website, the commercial trademark used or registered, the use of professional emails, etc. 
    • The mere promise or statement that the buyer is not a consumer is not in principle sufficient. 
  • The particular right of any consumer is the right of cancellation. Unlike business buyers, who in principle have no legal right to cancel the agreed sale if there is no defect or delay, consumers can cancel the sale without reason in the following circumstances: 
    • Door-to-door sales of goods worth at least CHF 100, sold by a professional. However, this is not the case if the consumer has expressly requested the negotiations or if he was at a market or fair stand. 
    • The right of revocation may be exercised when the consumer has been approached at his place of work or home, on public transport or on the public highway, at an advertising event or by telephone or similar voice telecommunication means. 
    • The period for revoking the sale is 14 days. 
  • Unlike in EU countries, there is no general 14-day right of withdrawal after concluding an online sale, but EU law does apply when you sell to consumers domiciled in the EU. However, this rule applies to any member of a commerce.swiss association and constitutes general practice in the field. 
  • For sales over the counter in a shop, there is no right of cancellation, and the only way to get out of the contract is to establish a defect in consent at the time the sale is concluded, such as error, deception or coercion. 
  • When buying online, consumers are protected by the right to clarity and transparency regarding the identity and conclusion of the contract on the part of the online trader. 
  • With regard to general terms and conditions, the law prohibits and renders null and void clauses which, contrary to the rules of good faith, provide, to the detriment of the consumer, for a significant and unjustified disproportion between the rights and obligations arising from the contract. Unlike European law, there is no ‘grey list’, and each case is assessed on its own merits. 
  • Unlike in other European countries, there is no maximum delivery period, as deadlines are freely stipulated in the contract. However, providing unreasonably short but impossible delivery times to attract customers is an unfair commercial practice, and therefore prohibited. 
    • Online retailers must provide the minimum information necessary for consumers: 
    • Clearly and completely state your identity and contract address, including e-mail address 
    • Indicate the various technical steps leading to the conclusion of a contract. In practice, ambiguous buttons such as “Continue”, “Finish” or “Next” are not suitable. Instead, use the “Buy” or “Order with obligation to pay” buttons. 
    • Provide the appropriate technical tools to detect and correct input errors before sending an order. 
    • Confirm the customer’s order without delay by e-mail. 
  • Additional requirements apply to the indication of prices to consumers: 
    • The price must be stated in Swiss Francs, including non-optional extras of all kinds. 
    • The price and all relevant information concerning it must be clearly visible and easily legible near the goods illustrated or described. 
    • Non-optional extras must be included in the price, as they are imperatively associated with the purchase of the goods and cannot be omitted, e.g. VAT, copyright fees, recycling fees for household appliances, etc. 
    • Shipping costs may be indicated separately, as they may vary according to the volume of the order, but they must also be visible and easily legible. 

Recommendations

To better manage the rules governing consumers’ main rights, here are a few golden recommendations to bear in mind: 

  1. Please clearly state whether you intend to sell only to professionals or also to consumers. Different rules must be followed and applied. Our templates allow you to deal separately with the rights of consumers and those of professional buyers. 
  2. Clearly assess whether or not you wish to offer online products to consumers in other countries. In this case, we recommend that you create another web domain with terms and conditions adapted to these countries. 
  3. Don’t forget to include the necessary information about the merchant and the products on the website. Pay particular attention to prices and charges or taxes. 
  4. Make sure that the buttons on the website are clear and unambiguous, and that you clearly state the order summary before confirming it. 

To protect yourself against consumer complaints, you can use our model sales contracts. 

Create your standard sale of goods agreement in a couple of clicks