The new EU consumer Rights Directive comes into effect from June 13th 2014.
It’s purpose – i) to regulate distance selling across the European Union so consumers have the same rights across all 28 member states and ii) to encourage growth and consumer confidence when buying across borders.
The Directive gives the cancellation rights and responsibilities for both traders and consumers where goods and services are purchased at a distance or off-premises. The Directive clarifies the contractual obligations between the seller and purchaser and gives increased rights to the consumer when purchasing digital downloads.
There are many changes in the EU Consumer Rights Directive – we have highlighted just a few of the main points in this blog, as there are too many to cover. However the full Directive can be downloaded here.
1. Confirm Order Buttons have to make it clear that the consumer is entering into a contract with a payment obligation. The regulation suggests that a final button should read “Order with obligation to pay”. Order Confirmation needs to be sent to the customer via a ‘durable medium’ . An email does count as such.
2. The ‘Right to Cancel’ period has been extended from 7 days after receipt of the goods to 14 days. This brings the UK in line with most other European countries.
3. Refunds – The retailer now only has 14 days in order to return funds to a customer (instead of the current 30 days). The refund period starts when the retailer has received the goods or a cancellation form.
4. Cancellation Forms – Now the retailer needs to provide a downloadable cancellation form. A link to a standardised form needs to be offered to customers. The regulation supplies a new model cancellation form which is reproduced here.
5. Partial Refunds can be made by the retailer on the value of goods which has diminished as a result of unreasonable care by the customer.
6. Clarity On Return Charges – Retailers need to make it clear before a sale who is responsible for the cost of returning goods, and give an estimate of the cost of returning the good. If it is not clear, the seller will be responsible for the cost. For information – up until now, the retailer has had to cover the cost of shipping and returns to German customers – this is now no longer the case.
7. Total Cost of Goods to be made clear at the point of sale – including all taxes, duties and shopping costs. The customer will not be liable for extra fees if they were not informed of them during the check-out process.
8. No Automatically Ticked Boxes for Optional Extras – Boxes throughout the purchase process cannot be pre-ticked. This includes all marketing communication opt-ins and additional services.
9. Premium Numbers are no longer allowed. Telephone numbers need to be free or standard-rated. Although technical helplines for after-sales assistance can still be premium rated.
As always it is important to understand how legislation affects your online shop. Make sure you update your website and especially where wording has to be more explicit. Make sure the detail in your T & Cs is also updated.
These changes have been bought in to hopefully facilitate cross-border trade and increase consumer confidence which should ultimately impact positively on your international sales.