Shopping in a Brick and Mortar Store: Your Consumer Rights in Germany
The rights when shopping in a store differ from the rights you have when shopping online.
We provide you with an overview concerning guarantees, exchanges, prices, methods of payment, sales and opening hours in Germany.
Legal Warranty: 2 Years from the Delivery of Goods in Europe
Consumers have a right to a minimum warranty of two years on products. In case of the purchase of used goods, the guarantee term can be reduced to one year.
This legal guarantee only applies to material defects that already existed when the consumer received the product.
Within the first six months, any lack of conformity shall be presumed to have existed at the time of delivery, unless proved otherwise.
Within this period, the consumer is entitled to have the goods brought back into conformity.
You are entitled to ask for the goods to be repaired or replaced free of charge.
After this period of six months, you are still protected against faulty products.
Within two years from delivery of the goods, the trader still can be held liable for any lack of conformity.
However, it is then up to you as a consumer to prove that the lack of conformity existed at the time of delivery.
Voluntary guarantees given by a producer do not restrict the statutory rights of consumers.
Exchange & Return Policy in Germany
You do not have a legal right to exchange or return the product. It is at the trader’s discretion to offer a right to return or exchange the product.
Many retailers offer a return policy within a certain time limit out of goodwill.
However, the retailer decides if the product can be exchanged against another, if you get a voucher or if they refund the sales price.
In any case, you will need the receipt or some other proof of purchase.
- The German currency is the Euro.
- The price of the product must be displayed on a price tag. The price must be definitely referable to the product, easily identifiable and clearly readable. The price tag does not have to be fixed to the product itself.
- You cannot insist on getting the item for the price indicated on the price tag.
- VAT must be included in the price.
- The trader is obliged to issue a receipt to you, but you do not have to take it.
VAT rates in Germany
EU governments have in the past agreed to loosely align their rates for indirect taxes by setting minimum levels.
In Germany, the reduced VAT rate is 7%, the standard VAT rate is 19%.
Note: From 1 July to 31 December 2020, VAT on goods and services were reduced from 19% to 16%. The reduced rate, which applies to food, for example, was 5% instead of 7%.
Methods of Payment
The most common methods of payment in Germany are cash, credit and debit cards.
When paying by credit or debit card, you may have to show an identity card.
Some restaurants and shops do not accept credit cards while debit cards, namely the German Girocard, are widely accepted.
Please note: in some shops, only cash is accepted.
Sales can take place at any time in Germany. They usually start in the last week of January (“Winterschlussverkauf, WSV” / winter sales) and in the last week of July (“Sommerschlussverkauf, SSV” / summer sales) and last for about two weeks.
Please keep in mind that these are general opening hours that the federal states allow.
Shop owners can decide to open their shops later or close them earlier.
Shops’ general opening hours are (depending on the federal state):
- Monday – Saturday: 00:00/06:00 -/ 20:00/22:00/24:00
- Sunday: closed (A few Sunday openings are allowed yearly depending on the federal state)
The boutiques and smaller shops in the cities:
- Monday – Saturday: 9:00/9:30 -18:00/20:00
- Sunday: closed
Banks’ general opening hours are:
- Monday – Friday: 09:00 / 09:30 - 17:00 / 18:00
- Saturday & Sunday: closed
- Some are open on Saturday in the morning from 9:00 to 12:00/12:30.
Post Offices’ general opening hours are:
- Monday – Friday: 08:00 / 08:30 - 18:00
- Saturday: on Saturday from 9:00 to 12:00/12:30
- Sunday: closed
There is a deposit (up to €0.25 per piece) on almost all bottles and cans excluding wine, milk, juices and spirits as well as ecologically profitable packaging.
If you return the empty bottle or can, you get the deposit back.
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