It was written on 6 July 2017. The law and practice in Turkey change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.
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This guide is about consumer protection laws in Turkey - what legislation exists to protect you and the steps you can take to seek refunds or compensation if you think you have been wronged.
Most countries have laws intended to protect the consumer. Turkey is no exception. The need for consumer protection arises because of the imbalance between the power of the trader and the power of the consumer. A consumer contract is usually prepared by the trader, not freely negotiated. There is little disclosure of background information and so little possibility of effective due diligence. The value of the goods or services is often quite low, making recourse to the courts an ineffective remedy.
Consumer protection law is less developed in Turkey than it is in many other countries. Turkey is a country with a deeply-rooted tradition of open and honest dealing and so, perhaps, the legislators did not feel that specific legislation was required. Or, perhaps, they have been too busy dealing with other pressing problems. Whatever the reason, Turkey’s wish to join the EU has meant that there are many areas of law which have needed to be harmonised with the EU, and consumer protection is one of them.
The advent of many international visitors and businesses has also meant that the position is now less satisfactory. Foreign-owned businesses based in Turkey may not operate to the level of ethics and honesty traditional in Turkey and, sadly, some local businesses seem to have learned lessons from the unscrupulous practises of their international competitors.
Equally, international visitors - especially those from Europe and the United States - have expectations when it comes to consumer protection and are surprised and disappointed when they are not met in Turkey.
Turkey has a consumer code, which governs the rights of consumers. Consumer contracts are defined as contracts between a person selling as part of a business activity and either a private individual or a business not entering a contract for business purposes. Thus a contract between you and your neighbour (two private individuals) under which you buy the neighbour’s car is not a consumer contract. Nor is a contract between ABD Architects Ltd and XYZ Developers Ltd under which ABC Architects Ltd agrees to provide architectural services for XYZ Ltd’s new development. However, a contract between two businesses where one of them is not entering the contract for the purposes of their business isa consumer contract and so protected by consumer law.
Turkey also has a special arrangement – the Consumer Commission – to deal with small consumer disputes, meaning disputes where the value is less than TRY3,000. In fact, disputes involving amounts less than TRY2,000 are dealt with by the Commission in the town concerns, and disputes involving amounts between TRY2,000 and TRY3,000 are dealt with by the provincial commissioner.
The Commission is set up by the provincial governor and comprises four people: one a lawyer, one from the municipal council, one from the local chamber of commerce or merchants, and one from a consumer organization.
Any issues falling within its jurisdiction are submitted to the Commission on a special form. The Commission then asks the business for a response to the complaint. It then decides whether the complaint is justified. There is no trial or public hearing.
Disputes involving more than TRY3,000 must be dealt with by the Court. These are not available in every town. If there is no special Consumer Court, disputes will go to the regular civil courts. There are no court charges for cases brought before the Special Court of Consumer Rights.
The process followed in this court is similar to that followed in any civil court trial.
The Court’s powers allow it to order that the goods should be returned to the seller, that the price of the goods or services should be refunded or reduced. It cannot order general compensation (for example, for damage caused by defective goods). For that you would have to go to the ordinary civil courts.
Most consumer protection issues arise out of contracts, whether written or verbal.
Under the general law of Turkey there is no distinction between a consumer contract and any other type of contract when it comes to the obligations of the parties. The only distinction concerns how any disputes are to be dealt with.
There are various pieces of legislation in Turkey specifically aimed at consumer protection.
Consumers may return any goods that they have purchased within 14 days without having to give any justification for their decision to do so.
They are entitled to a full refund.
The goods must not be damaged.
This right does not apply to certain things such as underwear and perishables.
There is no specific law relating to ‘buying at a distance’ contracts: i.e. contracts for the provision of goods or services that are not made on the premises of the trader. The general law applies.
If you need help with a consumer protection problem in Turkey, there are two main options:
You can contact the Consumer Commission and report the problem to them.
You can take the matter up through your lawyer and the courts.
In either case, you should have notified the other party about the nature of your dispute and given them a reasonable time (usually interpreted as 14 days) to put the problem right.
There is no charge for using the Consumer Commission or for using the services of the specialist Consumer Court. If you are going to use your lawyer, seek an estimate of likely fees.
Most transactions in Turkey will go smoothly, of course, but if things do go wrong it's good to know that there are consumer protection laws to fall back on. Although Turkey's might not be the strongest, if you know what you're doing you can take advantage of them.
|Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
|Court Cases & Disputes in Turkey
The process of legally solving a dispute
|Defective Products in Turkey
How to deal with dodgy produce
I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.Başak Yıldız Orkun 6 July 2017
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