Will UK consumers affected by new EU proposals?

15 July 2009

http://img36.imageshack.us/img36/1871/main29238742926711.jpgNew EU proposals to umbrella shopper rights may be unfair to UK consumers, says the House of Lords EU Committee. Yesterday, they cautioned the Government against accepting the EC's Consumer Rights Directive, in view of the possible impact to British consumers as this was likely to "water down" existing shopper protection guarantees.

The main point of contention is the right to reject faulty products and choose between refund or repair. The Directive's two-year limit of a trader's liability for repair or replacement of faulty products is also troubling, according to Parliament.UK.

The Committee questioned whether durable items like cars, which are expected to last longer than two years, would suffer from declines in quality if manufacturers knew they would only be responsible for problems in the first two years.

Baroness Howarth, Chair of the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Social Policy and Consumer Affairs said, "it is vital that consumers throughout the EU do not lose their existing rights." "In the UK, we are keen to protect the right to reject and the trader's existing six-year liability for faulty goods."

But the Committee isn't against the proposal as a whole. In fact, they think it could be very beneficial to both businesses and consumers. Whether it would actually increase cross-border trading? That's a whole other question.

TOPICS:   Government

11 comments

  • Mike
    I agree and disagree, as it is now you could have to goto court to get a verdict on how long something is expected to last.
  • Michael J.
    Shiznit
  • Sean
    Harmonisation is a) an effective way to foster international trade (in theory) and b) a small step towards an eu superstate. Why should we have the same rights as the rest of the eu? God knows we pay more for most goods.
  • Deejay
    The UK has absolute bollocks for consumer rights anyway. So what harm is it going to do?
  • shadow
    @Sean Your wrong my friend. We actually are mediocre
  • Patrick
    I'm confused about this statement that "In the UK, we are keen to protect the right to reject and the trader’s existing six-year liability for faulty goods" - I've been looking for years to find a clear law/guideline which states how long liability for faulty goods extends to, until now what I've found on the net has suggested there is no time-limit. Which has always meant that if you argued with a trader that he/she should replace the product due to a fault (the company returns policy not withstanding) they could always state that a 'reasonable time' has past since the item was purchased and in their regard your no longer covered. i.e. Consumer believes this means long manufacturer warranty & Trader believes this means shorter m. w. . Does this make sense to anyone?. If you happen to stumble across the documentation on manufacturer liability. Do have one question, If a manufacturer offers a (1 year) limited manufacturer warranty of his products does this not mean if the product breaks after 2 years due to a fault then the product should still be replaced???
  • Lumoruk
    Patrick it means they can repair it, if they don't want to repair it they can replace it, if they don't want to replace it they will refund you, if they don't want to refund you, well you'll have to open a small claim in court
  • Andrew
    You have the amount of time a product should reasonably be expected to last. However, you have to take into account all the variables involved in any product that you buy. If you pay £3 for an iron and it fails after 1 year of working perfectly then it could be shown that you've had your moneys worth. If, however, you pay £100 for an iron of similar capabilities and it fails within the same time-frame, then it should be reasonable to expect a refund. Remember, when all is said and done you do have small claims court for a lot of things and, from what I gather, it's a reasonably simple process to go through.
  • Helen L.
    At Which?, we're pleased to see the Committee highlight the key concerns that Which? has raised about the Consumer Rights Directive. The Government needs to ensure that rather than watering-down the UK rules, other EU countries benefit from the rights that UK consumers currently enjoy, such as the ability to reject faulty goods and the right to claim against a seller for up to six years. It would be a crying shame if the Consumer Rights Directive, which is supposed to be helping consumers, actually hindered them. We have more about the Consumer Rights Directive for anyone who needs more information on our website: www.whichlegalservice.co.uk
  • Simon
    It's up to 6 years - the term reasonable seems to come in to retail law an awful lot. And clearly, even within the same building one employee/customers idea of "reasonable" could be massively different to another! Currently, I believe - during the first year it's assumed that any fault is that of the manufacturer - and it's down to the manufacturer or representative to proove otherwise. After that, and UP TO 6 years after the point of purchase it's down to the consumer to show that the fault was inherent at the time of purchase - usually done through an independant engineers report or similar. The only change the EU is really proposing (as far as I've made out so far) is that that original one year section should be extended to two years.
  • Peter F.
    Simon's assessment of 19/7/09 is similar to the one in this article: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/bargains-and-rip-offs/tips-and-guides/article.html?in_advicepage_id=131&in_article_id=487339&in_page_id=53954 Whereas "Which?" seems to agree with the House of Lords: http://www.which.co.uk/about-which/press/product-press-releases/which-legal-service/2009/07/lords-confirms-which-warning-on-eu-consumer-proposals.jsp So who's right? Which? That's my guess. I mean ... my guess is "Which?" ... despite their silly name.

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