Len Dastard tackles the proposed Consumer Right Directive

18 May 2011

Bitterwallet-Len-Dastard-featuredEscuche arriba, hermosas personas! It is I, Len Dastard, full time litigation executive and part time pretend lucha libre! You know that by now, of course. You don't? I spit on your mother grave, you worthless hijo de un burro. Get out of my sight.

There is some new legislation which had its first reading in the European Parliament in March which could impact consumers and retailers greatly. It's called the Consumer Rights Directive, and its primary aim is to tackle and amend the following consumer rights acts:

• The sale of consumer goods and guarantees
• Doorstop selling
• Distance Selling; and
• Unfair contract terms

We have looked at the Distance Selling Regulations a few times so the avid reader will be aware of that particular legislation. The ultimate goal of the Consumer Rights Directive is to protect online shoppers and boost consumer confidence in buying in other member states. If this is passed it will apply to transactions made in a shop, on the telephone, online or by mail order.

Some of the standout amendments proposed include:

• Retailers will be forced to cover the return costs for orders with a value of more than €40.
• Consumers are given (across the EU) a 14 day window when buying abroad in which to change their mind (as I am sure you know, the current “cooling off” period is 7 working days)
• Retailers will have a legal responsibility to deliver the goods within 30 days; the Consumer Rights Directive will allow the consumer the cancel the contract if the goods are not delivered within that time.
• All retailers will be required to sell into any EU country.
• Tighter rules on special “offers” advertised on the internet.
• Retailers will be required to give clearer pricing and contact details - they are calling this method “double click” acceptance.

It is clear from some of the above proposals that a massive burden will be placed on retailers. Whether or not these are unfair will be determined once more is known after the Consumer Rights Directive gets its final vote in June.

The one standout burden is the proposal of the retailer covering the return cost of the item (over €40) when the consumer is exercising their right to cancel under the (lets use the current) Distance Selling Regulations. Is it fair that the retailer should be stung for the return costs simply because the consumer has changed their mind? Are we not getting enough protection as it is? It will be interesting to hear your thoughts, as always.

If you have any other questions, problems or you just want to get in touch then email me, Len Dastard at [email protected]

6 comments

  • Tom
    If you change your mind you should pay the return costs - simple as. I think it'd be worth adding a rule that refunds must be carried out in a certain time too. The 14 days return window is probably to cover the length of time for delivery so fair do's there. Based on the parts highlighted it all looks pretty sensible.
  • Sawyer
    Judging from some HUKD comments, there's already a lot of consumers who use generous returns policies to their advantage, such as 28-day no-quibble returns to play with gadgets they never intended to keep. The current DSRs are fine as they are: 7 days is enough time to assess the suitability of virtually all goods, and it seems fair to me as a consumer to accept that I will have to pay postage on things I'm simply "trying out". Forcing retailers to take the burden will just force prices up for anyone else. The most unfair part is forcing sales to all EU countries, combined with the above rules. Naturally this will incur higher postage costs and exchange fees, meaning huge fees for the retailer when some guy returns his 13-day old home cinema system shipped over from Poland.
  • Phil76
    @Tom - surely the cooling off period must start after delivery? Otherwise it makes the guaranteed delivery within 30 days a nonsense. Be interesting to see how they can force retailers to sell to all European countries.
  • Len D.
    As it stands the cooling off period begins on the day that you receive the goods. I have a feeling the 30 days will be subject to some slight further amendment. Whether or not the retailer can despatch on the 29th day or the item must be received by the 30th day will be confirmed. I would imagine it will be delivered by 30 days.
  • Sim
    As someone who sells at the small scale online, I'll just have to put the postage costs up to cover the cost of returns... That's the obvious way of dealing with it.
  • BobF
    @Phil76 - Be interesting to see how they can force retailers to sell to all European countries. I doubt its a case of forcing them to sell to all EU countries, Id think it was more likely retailers will be forbidden from refusing the sale because youre in another country. For example, where a shop has a French and UK version (take Amazon as an example) they would not be allowed to reject your order because you bought from the French one and wanted it shipped to the UK. Of course, this will be quite interesting where companies have complained about people buying from outside their "home" markets, where the product in question is cheaper.

What do you think?

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