Consumer contracts analysed and explained

Amazon’s contract explained and analysed


Amazon’s terms and conditions are short, and say little about a consumer's rights (you need to go and look elsewhere for what these are). But the terms and conditions do not try to take away the rights of consumers in word they use. But still the terms and conditions are one sided in favour of Amazon: This is because

  1. it is up to Amazon to decide whether they will sell you the goods (they decide when there is a binding contract)
  2. they do not have to keep to whatever price they put on their website or elsewhere (but if they do not wish to sell you the goods at the price quoted when you place an order they will cancel your order);
  3. they do not have to keep to anything they say about stock levels or delivery dates or times. These are merely estimates
  4. they do not use the English or Scottish law. Amazon use the law of Luxumbourgb. Because of the use of the law of Luxembourg Amazon will normally only be liable for goods for a period of up to 2 years (in England, it can be up to 6 years). See [EU Consumer Rights] page for more this.

Regardless what the law says, some Amazon customers have found that where there is a problem with goods and more than a year has passed since purchase, Amazon have claimed that they do not need to do anything (the goods are outside a one year 'warranty'). See a web page on the The Guardian website about this. Basic EU consumer rights law specifies that goods should normally confirm to the contract of sale (which will include that they are fit for the purposes a consumer has for the goods in question) for a period of two years. See [EU Consumer Rights] page for more this.

Although Amazon's terms and conditions are in favour of Amazon they are unlikely to be unfair. For example, although they do not have to keep to the price they state on their website, they do not attempt to force to buy at higher price when they ready to sell you the goods.

Where to find Amazon's terms and conditions for the sale of goods?


The terms and conditions of sale start at paragraph 13 and continue to paragraph 27.

What do Amazon's terms and conditions actually say?

Questions Answers Where
Who am I am buying the goods from? Amazon EU S.A.R.L. This a company existing in Luxembourg. Paragraph 27
I have placed my order. Does Amazon have to sell me the goods?


When you press the [ ] button, all that happens is that you are asking Amazon to sell the goods. At this point Amazon does not have any obligation to you.

When Amazon sends you an email acknowleding your order, all that is happening is that they are saying to you, "we have received your request, but we are no obligation at anytime, ever, to sell the goods you want".

Amazon will only have to sell you the goods you want when it sends you an email (“Dispatch Confirmation E-mail”) saying that. Amazon will only do so when it is ready to send to you.

Paragraph 14
Does Amazon have to stick to the price stated at the time you placed your order No.

If the price is the same or lower at the time they are ready to sell you the goods, they will sell at the same or lower price.

If it is higher they can (as they wish) either cancel your order or contact you to ask whether you wish to pay the higher price.

Paragaph 16

Second paragraph.

Amazon says the goods are in stock before I ordered. After I ordered they are not in stock. Can I do anything about this? No.

Amazon state that you will be informed after you place the order as to availability, which implies they can decide whether a product is availablle after an order.

But, given that there is no binding obligation on Amazon until after they tell you so, it makes no difference.

Paragraph 16

First Paragraph

Amazon says that my goods will be with me by a certain date (or be despatched by a certain date). They have not turned up. Can I do anything about this?

Nothing, initially.

Why? Amazon state that despatch times are only estimates.

If there is a continued failure of the goods to arrive then you can cancel the contract (usually you have waited 30 days). See your rights whenyou buy and services online

Paragraph 16

First Paragraph

I have ordered several goods, but Amazon have ‘accepted’ them separately. Can they do this? Yes

Normally this will not matter, but it can be important where the value of all the goods amounted to more than £100, you paid by a credit card and the goods where related to each other.

If the goods separately are worth less than £100 then you will not be able to use the additional protection provided by s 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. [See What extra protection does s 75 Consumer Credit Act 1974 provide.]

Paragraph 14

Last sentence.

I received faulty goods. They also caused damage to my other possessions and I had to take time off work to deal with it. Does Amazon have to pay? Possibly.

What Amazon commit themselves to are the losses you suffer which are “reasonably foreseeable”.

Paragraph 22
Can Amazon change the terms and conditions on which they sell to you? Yes.

But not for existing orders. If you have already placed an order Amazon state they will not change the terms and conditions.

Paragraph 23
What law applies? Why is it important? When you enter into a contract with Amazon, they choose the legal system that applies to the contract between you and them.

As noted [above], Amazon is not a British company. It is a Luxembourg company.

In short, English contract law does not apply to the contract between you and Amazon. The contract law of Luxembourg does. However, as Luxombourg is a member of the EU then it are certain EU-wide laws which do (see [EU Consumer Rights] page for more on this]). Also if Amazon refuse to deal with faulty goods and refuse to repair the goods ore refund what you pay, you can sue them in England using a special small claims procedure (see below).

Paragraph 26

Do I have sue Amazon in Luxembourg?

No. The contract you have with Amazon does not stop you using the courts of England and Wales (or Scotland). (The contract states that not only the courts of Luxembourg City can deal with a dispute.)

In addition, and more importantly perhaps, there is a EU-wide law allowing use of a special form of the small claims procedure in England . This special procedure is not exactlyh the same as that for English only disputes. See [Using the European Small Claims Court to sue] for more details.