(CN) – A man who tried to return a mattress without the protective film in which it was shipped can still seek a refund, Europe’s highest court ruled Wednesday.
Sascha Ledowski sued in Mainz, Germany, for reimbursement after receiving an order in late 2014 from the online retailer Slewo. In addition to the cost of the mattress itself, at nearly 1,100 euros, Ledowski sought reimbursement of shipping costs, roughly another 100 euros.
Both the local court and the regional court found that Ledowski had a case, but the Federal Court of Justice sought input on EU law when Slewo appealed.
On Wednesday the Sixth Chamber of the European Court of Justice ruled for Ledowski as well.
Likening the mattress to a garment, the Luxembourg-based court said that a product is not rendered unfit for resale solely because it lost its protective film.
“It is common ground that many garments, when they are tried on in accordance with their intended purpose, may come into contact with the human body — which cannot be ruled out in the case of mattresses — without being subject in practice to requirements in terms of special protection in order to prevent such contact during trying on,” the ruling states.
The ruling goes on to say that, “even in the case of direct contact of those goods with the human body, it may be presumed that the trader is in a position to make those goods, after they have been returned by the consumer, by means of a treatment such as cleaning or disinfection, suitable for new use by a third party and, accordingly, for a new sale, without prejudice to the requirements of health protection or hygiene.”
A consumer should not be deprived of his right to withdraw from an online purchase merely because he handled the order as much as necessary “to establish the nature, characteristics and functioning of the goods,” the court added.