Consumer contract law

Last updated: 1 10 2021

About Sweden – an orientation about Swedish society.

This text is about consumer rights. Sweden has laws that protect you when you buy goods and services. These laws give you the right, for example, to make a complaint about something you bought and in some cases to change your mind. 

It describes what to do if you change your mind about a purchase, how you contest an incorrect invoice and your other rights as a consumer.

  • The right to a reasonable standard of living

    Everyone is entitled to a reasonable standard of living. This means, for example, that you are entitled to receive or earn enough money in order for you and your family to be well.

    You have to be able to buy food and clothes, have a home and be able to afford medical care. If you become ill or unemployed, social services have to help you achieve a reasonable standard of living. Children are entitled to social security and to a standard of living that is sufficient to ensure their development.

Shopping online

Shopping in line can be easy. But in order for your online purchase to be as safe as possible, there are some things you should bear in mind.

Find information about the company

Make sure there is an address and a telephone number to the company. Try contacting the company's customer service – it has to be easy to get in touch with.

Check what other people think about the company. You can read online what other people think is good or bad about the company.

Never give your PIN code to anyone else

Many people use their bank cards and mobile phones when shopping online or paying in shops. Never give your PIN code or password to anyone else. Do not let anyone else use your bank account to move money. Anyone who wants to know your PIN code or password may try to take money from you. This is known as fraud and is a criminal offence.

Two elderly people seated at a table in front of a computer.
  • Questions to think about

    Have you ever made online purchases?

    How do you know that it is a secure transaction and that you will not get defrauded?

Cheap offers

Always be suspicious of extremely cheap offers online. It might be an attractive offer for a cheap product that then leads to a costly subscription. Once the subscription has been started, it can be difficult to cancel.

  • Questions to think about

    Give examples of the kinds of tempting offers and subscriptions that are mentioned in the text.

    How do you determine whether an offer is good or bad?

Read the conditions of purchase and check the total price, delivery conditions and payment terms

Always read the conditions of purchase or terms of contract before you buy anything from the company.

Check what the total price will be of what you want to buy. Check what is included in the price, for example the cost of sending the item to you.

Check what the delivery time is – how long it will take for you to receive the item.

Check what the payment options are. When you shop online you can pay for the items you buy in different ways. Check what the different payment options are and what they involve.

If you are going to use a bank card, only use it to pay on websites that are encrypted. When a website is encrypted its web address begins with 'https' instead of 'http'. If there is a padlock symbol in the address field for the web address, this also shows that the company has an extra secure website.

If you don't have an ID card

Have you recently received your personal identity number from the Tax Agency? Remember not to buy anything online until you have received your identity (ID) card. You have to show your ID card in order to collect your parcel from a parcel service or post service point.

Rights when buying items and services

Sweden has laws that protect you when you buy items and services. These laws give you the right, for example, to make a complaint about a purchase and in some cases to change your mind.

  • Receipts

    You are entitled to be given a receipt when you buy something in a shop. If you shop online you are entitled to be sent a confirmation of your order. Remember that it is a good idea to keep this proof of what you bought and how much you paid.

    A receipt must include information about the date, price, article number, and how many items you bought. It must also include the name, corporate identity (or VAT number) and address of the company you bought from.

  • Complaints

    If there is anything wrong with the item or service you bought, you are entitled to make a complaint about it. The seller must then be given the opportunity to repair the defective item. Often you will instead be given a new item to replace the defective one. When you buy a service that is not as advertised, the seller must correct it so that it is as advertised.

    You are entitled to make a complaint regardless of whether you have a right to exchange what you have bought. You are also entitled to complain about discounted items if they are faulty. In Sweden consumers have the right to complain within three years of the purchase.

    Contact the seller and describe what is wrong with the item or service as soon as possible after your purchase. Two months after discovering the fault is considered an acceptable period of time within which to make a complaint.

    • Always keep the receipt when you buy something. That makes it easier to return the item if you should want to.
    • Make your complaint in writing, e g via email.

    Keep a copy of your complaint, so that you can prove that you have made a complaint to the seller, and when.

  • Option to return

    Buying with an option to return the item means that you get your money back if you no longer want the item you bought and you return it within a certain period of time.

    There is no law that guarantees you the right to buy with an option to return the item. Offering the option to return an item is voluntary, so shops decide for themselves what terms to apply. This means that some shops offer a 30-day period in which you have the option to return an item, while others don't offer it at all.

    • Always ask in the shop what terms apply.
    • Check your receipt to make sure it says for how long you have the option to return the item.
    • Keep the receipt and make sure you return the item before the specified period for returning it has passed.
    • Make sure the item you want to exchange is in the same condition it was when you bought it.
  • Right to exchange

    The right to exchange means that you can return an item you bought and choose another one instead. It does not mean that you get your money back.

    There is no law that guarantees you the right to exchange an item you bought. Offering the right to exchange an item is voluntary, so shops decide for themselves what terms to apply.

    • Always ask in the shop what terms apply.
    • Check your receipt to make sure it says for how long you have the right to exchange the item.
    • Keep the receipt and make sure you exchange the item before the specified period for exchanging it has passed.
    • Make sure the item you want to exchange is in the same condition it was when you bought it.
  • Cancellation right

    When you buy something in a shop you are not entitled to cancel the purchase. However, you are entitled to cancel the purchase and get your money back when you buy something online, from a telemarketer, or via mail order – which are all known as "distance sales". You are also entitled to cancel your purchase if you enter into an agreement with the seller outside his/her business premises.

    • You have a 14-day cancellation period when you buy something via distance sales or outside the seller's business premises.
    • The cancellation period begins the day after you receive the item. If you are buying a service, the cancellation period begins the day after you entered into the agreement. The cancellation period is the time within which you have the right to cancel the purchase. In the case of telemarketing, an agreement is only considered entered into after you have confirmed it in writing. The requirement for a written confirmation includes hard (on paper) as well as soft (in an email or text message) forms.
    • The seller must inform you about how to cancel the purchase before you enter into an agreement. If the seller has not given you enough information, the cancellation period is extended.
    • The right to cancel does not apply to all types of purchases. It does not apply, for example, when you buy a travel ticket or a specially manufactured product. The seller must inform you that the right to cancel does not apply to the these purchases.
    • Make sure you cancel in writing, e g via email. Keep a copy as proof.
    • You have to return the item to the seller within 14 days of having notified them that you want to cancel. You have to pay the shipping cost of returning the item if the seller informed you of this before you entered into the agreement. Keep the receipt showing that you have sent the item back to the seller, so that you can show the seller you have.

Contracts

When you and someone else (another party) reach an agreement about something you enter into a contract. This contract is binding for both parties, which means that you both have to do what the contract says you have promised to do. For example, that one party has promised to deliver a good that the other party then promises to pay for.

When you buy something in a shop or book a ticket on the internet you are entering into a contract. You have to be 18 years old to enter into a contract on your own. There are many types of contracts with different rules depending on what the contract is about.

You can enter into contracts verbally as well as in writing. Some types of contracts have to be in writing in order to be binding, such as when you buy a house.

You are not obliged to pay for anything you have not ordered

In order for a contract to be valid, you have accept an offer or expressly order something. If a company claims you have ordered something, it also has to be able to prove that you have.
You are not obliged to pay for anything you have not ordered, but you always need to contact the company to contest its claim. Contesting its claim means protesting against its wrongful claim for payment from you.

Contest the claim in writing, e g via email, and keep a copy of your email or letter. Remember that you are not obliged to pay shipping costs either when returning something you did not order. If the company wants you to return the item or items, you can ask for a return shipment label.

Telephone sales

It is common for companies to phone you to try to sell something. This is known as telephone sales.

You can block your phone if you want to reduce the number of telephone sales calls you get. Contact NIX-Telefon to block your phone, but be aware that this will not stop all telephone sales calls. When you have registered your number with the blocking service, most companies will not be allowed to call you for selling, marketing or fundraising purposes – but some companies, such as companies you are or have been a client of, are still allowed to call you. Companies are obliged to check whether your number is registered by NIX before calling you.

  • Questions to think about

    Have you ever been contacted by a telephone salesperson?

    What do you usually say in order not to be deceived?

Subscriptions

A subscription is a contract in which a supplier has promised to regularly deliver a good or service to a customer. A subscription can apply for a specified period of time or be open-ended. A supplier is a person or company that delivers a good or service.

Examples of subscriptions include contracts for the delivery of electricity, for using your mobile phone via a particular operator, and for watching pay-per-view TV via cable or satellite.

Usually it is the supplier who draws up the contract, and contracts are typically written in a way so that they can be used in several similar business situations. This means that you as the customer are usually unable to influence the content of the contract. You either accept the subscription contract as it is, or you choose another supplier.

Customers are often referred to as subscribers.

Subscription traps

A subscription trap is an attractive offer that often has a concealed subscription. On the internet, especially on social media, it is common that you get offers for cheap products that lead to expensive subscriptions. For example, you might get an offer to take part in a market survey and then be able to buy a phone for a very low price. Or you could be sent samples of health food where it looks like you are only paying for the shipping. Subscription traps also occur in telemarketing.

Hallå Konsument has videos explaining subscription traps. The videos are only available in Swedish.

You can get free advice about contracts, subscriptions, bills and debts:

Advice on budgets and debt:

You can get help and advice regarding your finances from the municipality where you live. All municipalities offer free budget and debt advice.

Consumer guidance

Many municipalities provide consumer guidance services. You can use them if you need help making a complaint about a product or service. The staff can also give you information about your rights and obligations as a consumer.

Contact Hallå Konsument if you have any questions about buying items and services, complaints, and anything else that you need help with as a consumer.