Shopping and consumer protection
Groceries, toiletries and other articles to be used daily can be bought at food markets, shopping centres, specialty shops or online.
Different vendors can be chosen from normally and as there is a vivid competition, prices can differ. On the long run, the prices can have an impact on the personal household budget, so be advised that you compare prices and pay attention to the quality of the things you buy. Low-priced does not mean automatically good. The quality of food products has always a high value and it has to be seen as significant.
Shops in Germany do not have the same opening hours. Normally, only during public holidays, shops remain closed. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule (generally open on Sundays and public holidays are bakeries, shops inside railway-and petrol stations). Sunday shopping is often separately being offered in various cities. In general shops are open 6 days a week until 8 o'clock pm. On Saturdays shops may have shorter hours of business. The differences are even more considerable if you compare cities and rural areas.
Please be aware of the opening hours of the shops in your vicinity and inform yourself before hand. The opening hours are often quite different.
Payment of purchases
You can pay for your purchases either by using cash money or your EC-card. An EC-card will be issued if you have an account at a bank. The amount due is then automatically deducted from your bank account. Certain shops also offer the possibility to pay by credit card. The payment possibilities in every shop are displayed most often at the cashier/checkout.
Larger purchases can also be financed. This way of paying means that you take out a private loan and pay the amount back in instalments. Purchasing goods or services by using a private loan have to be thoroughly and well thought over. You have to be able to stem the instalments during the term of the loan, which could easily last several months or even years. Do keep in mind that the final amount which you will have to pay will increase, as you have to pay interest as well.
Nowadays, many items can be purchased via the internet. Even groceries are delivered all the way to your doorstep. While surfing the internet, you have to be careful and check if you are dealing with a serious vendor or supplier. One of best things to do is to check references of the company and to check out internet forums.
Common practice is, that things bought online are not payed for immediately. Either you have received an invoice that has to be settled after the goods have been delivered or another possibility is to use the direct debit system. This system deducts the invoice amount immediately from your bank account. However, the risk of possible fraud is rather small and considered safe as amounts transferred via direct debiting can be reversed by you, using your bank. The bank will reverse the booking upon your request within 8 weeks of the debit action.
Purchase contracts that were finalised via Email or post can be cancelled, without the need of giving any reasons in writing, within 14 days. Acting this way you won’t be bound to the contract any longer.
In case that you not comprehend exactly, what is written in the text of a contract or you need more time to reconsider the matter in question. Do not sign anything. It is definitely always more complicated to cancel or to terminate a contract than not having signed one in the first place at all.
It case you became the victim of fraud in the internet or were not informed upfront about a purchase, you have the possibility to be counselled by the „consumer advice centre“. The migration counselling as well as the federal legal office may be able to offer help.
With every purchase, the seller must guarantee the buyer, that goods sold lack any defects. In case that the customer realises that the purchase has a defect, he is entitled to two years of warranty. However, the entitlement of warranty is nullified if the goods show normal signs of regular wear and tear. The exchange because of a defect that is covered by the warranty, can be done without using the original packaging. Just keep in mind that a prove of purchase is usually required. In case that you do not possess the receipt any more, you are obliged to prove that you have bought the defect item in this specific store.
Exchange without defects within a certain time period is possible in Germany, however it is not a must. No store is obliged to exchange goods if there is no defect.