Buying a car online? And therefore no right of withdrawal?

Buying a car online? And therefore no right of withdrawal? 1

More and more often, vehicle dealers now offer their vehicles on the Internet on corresponding platforms. Contact with the consumer who is interested in a vehicle often runs through e-mails and the telephone. In a judgment handed down on 16 September 2019 (Az. 2 O 683/19), the District Court of Osnabrück had to deal with the question of whether this would make the purchase of a vehicle a so-called distance selling business. If this were the case, the right of withdrawal would apply.

In the specific case, a woman from Munich had sued. In January 2018, she had purchased a station wagon from the car dealership in Wietmarschen (Emsland), which was later complained about. She had found it on a large internet platform. She then contacted the dealership by phone. The latter had finally sent her an order form for the vehicle by e-mail. The e-mail stated that the purchase would only take place with written confirmation or handover of the vehicle. The applicant sent the signed form back by e-mail scanned and transferred the purchase price. Shortly afterwards, her husband picked up the vehicle in Emsland.

In November 2018, the applicant then sought to reverse the contract of sale and claimed back the purchase price. It claimed that it was a so-called distance contract, in which there was a legal right of withdrawal. After all, the vehicle was offered online. All communication with the dealership was also digital. The car dealership resisted this. It claimed not to operate a distance selling business. The advertisements on the Internet were used solely to advertise the vehicles. The order by e-mail was accepted exceptionally, but the purchase was only completed with the collection of the vehicle. It is common ground that that this took place in the dealership itself. There is no organised mail order business in vehicles.

The 2nd Civil Chamber of the District Court of Osnabrück now agreed with the car dealership. The fact that vehicles are offered online and, exceptionally, perhaps also to buy a car via the Internet and telephone is not enough to start from an organised distance selling system. Only in the case of such a law, however, does there be a statutory right of withdrawal. An organised distance selling system within the meaning of the law necessarily presupposes that there is also an organised system for the dispatch of the goods. That is not the case here. The dealership had always insisted on picking up the vehicle at the company’s headquarters. Nor did the applicant claim that the dealership offered vehicles for dispatch. On the other hand, it is not decisive whether the purchase contract was finally concluded before or only at the time of collection.

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