Backtrack on Consumer Rights Reforms Welcomed
The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has welcomed a decision to scrap plans forcing online traders to sell their products throughout the EU, saying it would have been impossible for small firms.
The Consumer Rights Directive, a new piece of legislation aimed at strengthening consumers’ rights and boosting consumer confidence when shopping online, has now been approved by the EU. It is expected to come into full effect by January 2013.
The Directive enables consumers to change their minds about an online purchase within 14 days of receiving goods, instead of seven days. Online traders will also now have to give buyers precise information regarding the total price, the goods ordered and the trader’s contact details.
But controversial plans that would have legally obliged web-based traders to sell their products to almost every European country ― in order to give consumers’ equal rights to buy regardless of their location ― have been dropped. Proposals to force businesses to pay return postage on any returned goods have also been scrapped.
According to a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokeswoman, it was likely the proposals had been dropped because they were “unworkable.”
The FPB, which lobbied against the plans, said the Directive was now “largely unproblematic” for traders.
However, extending the period which consumers can return goods to 14 days was unnecessary and open to abuse, according to FPB spokesman Chris Gorman;
“People could buy a product or item, use it and then return it, at no cost to them. Customers are also not required to give a reason. Small traders could lose out in this way.”
According to EU figures, 40% of EU consumers bought goods and services over the internet last year, compared with just 26% in 2006.