The car owner regretted the service – dropped the bill

The car owner regretted the service – dropped the bill

“The court has no doubt that an agreement has been concluded for the ‘distance sale’ of workshop services (…) and therefore the right of withdrawal law applies,” is the conclusion of a recent district court ruling.

For the car owner who was sued by Bertel O. Steen, this means that he does not have to pay the bill for the service the company performed and the merchandise he received.

Booked online

The story began when in September 2022 the car owner booked a service appointment with Bertel O. Steen Trøndelag online after receiving a notification on the car's dashboard.

Shortly after ordering, Bertel O. Steen estimated that the cost per hour of service would be approximately NOK 9,880. The car owner thought the amount was high, but was told that it was necessary to change the battery coolant and eCall battery.

The day before the service appointment, he was asked to pre-approve the cost.

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The car owner then discovered that the eCall battery had never had to be changed, while the coolant could have been changed for free by the factory if he had waited until January of the following year. This would have saved him NOK 6,390.

The car owner was never informed of the right to cancel on request and in August last year submitted a claim to take advantage of this.

The right of withdrawal extends from 14 days to up to 12 months when the seller does not inform us of this at the time of ordering.

Bertel O. Steen rejected this claim and the case ended up in the Consumer Complaints Commission. Here, Bertel O. Steen was asked to pay the full amount of NOK 9,880 plus late payment interest to the car owner.

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Thus the case ended in court. Bertel O. Steen received a summons to the Trøndelag District Court to review the decision. Here too the car owner won.

Distance selling

The starting point of the right of cancellation law is that the consumer has the right to cancel when making a purchase online or by phone, which is called distance selling.

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If the right of withdrawal is exercised correctly, the consumer is obliged to pay for the reduction in value when returning the goods. According to the law, this obligation does not apply if the seller does not fulfill its obligation to provide information under the Right of Withdrawal Law.

However, there are a number of exceptions, Bertle O believes. Stine that this applies in this case.

Initially, Bertel O. Steen believes that the agreement was made on the premises, and maintains that the car owner was not bound by the order until he made payment after the workshop's opening hours. However, if the right of withdrawal were to apply, Bertel O. Steen believed that an exception for “goods that deteriorate” would apply.

The court had a different opinion, noting that the car owner had ordered an online appointment for the workshop and that Bertil O. Stein responded using digital means. The right of withdrawal therefore applies.

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Furthermore, the Trøndelag District Court wrote that the goods delivered – washer fluid, battery coolant, and eCall battery – were not in themselves of a nature that would deteriorate quickly upon delivery.

“The deterioration is due to the fact that it was installed in the vehicle and started to be used,” the ruling stated.

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The court believes that this type of spoilage is different from goods that by their nature have a limited shelf life, and cites fresh foods and cut flowers as examples.

The Trøndelag District Court emphasizes that it is aware of the practical consequences of returning washer fluid and battery coolant that have already been used, but Bertel O. Steen believes that other exceptions to the right of withdrawal law should be used here.

– This is the result when the buyer has the right to withdraw and the seller does not provide sufficient information about this matter, says lawyer Thomas Iversen at the Consumer Council. Image: Consumer Council

The seller must pay

Thomas Iversen, a consumer lawyer at the Consumer Council, read the ruling and agreed with the application and conclusion of the law.

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– This is the result when the buyer has the right to withdraw and the seller does not provide sufficient information about this matter. The seller then risks having to pay the full purchase price, says Thomas Iversen, a lawyer at the Consumer Council FinanceAffairs.com.

The same thing happens if you purchase a product online, for example a piece of clothing, and you are not given sufficient information about the right to cancel. He says the buyer is entitled to a full refund of the purchase price, even if the garment was used before the person regrets the purchase.

On the other hand, if the seller communicates the right of withdrawal, the consumer is obligated to pay for the reduction in value and the return postage. The same applies to services, where information about the right to cancellation and restrictions on it means that the consumer will lose the right to cancel once the service is complete.

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Recently, the electricity industry has also noted how an opt-out law can come into effect if customers are not informed of the right to cancel an order.

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Last fall, 31 electricity customers were won by Haugaland Kraft in Elklagenamnda. The court concluded that the electricity company did not disclose the right of withdrawal in a clear and understandable manner.

– The company did not provide sufficient information, and many customers were entitled to free electricity for up to a year, says Iversen.

“We believe it has an important principled aspect regarding what applies to digital booking of workshop hours,” says Anders Richter, Director of Communications and Community at Bertel O. Steen.  Photo: Bertil O.  Sixty

“We believe it has an important principled aspect regarding what applies to digital booking of workshop hours,” says Anders Richter, Director of Communications and Community at Bertel O. Steen. Photo: Bertil O. Sixty

Consider the appeal

It was Bertil O Steen who brought the case to court.

“We chose to try the case in court because we believe it contains an important aspect of principle regarding what applies to the digital booking of workshop hours,” says Anders Richter, Director of Communications and Community at Bertel O. Steen when asked why the company chose to bring the undervalued case. About 10,000 Norwegian kroner before the court.

– What consequences will there be for Bertel O. Steen and the appointment booking system if the ruling is upheld?

– It's too early to say.

Bertel O. Steen has not decided whether to appeal the ruling.

“We will take a close look at the ruling and evaluate appropriate steps to take further action in this case,” Richter says.

This article was previously published in FinanceAffairs.com.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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