Consumer protection reinforced when shopping online
The new European Consumer Rights Directive, adopted by the European Council of Ministers in October 2011, entered into force on the 13th June 2014.
The directive provides with new and stronger protection rules to consumers when shopping online across Europe. The following main requirements have been introduced:
- The pre-ticked boxes on websites are banned. Until today consumers were frequently forced to un-tick these boxes to remove extra services;
- Hidden charges and other cost traps on internet offers are also banned, and consumers are now required to explicitly confirm that they understand that they have to pay a price;
- Traders are required to disclose the total cost of the product or service, as well as any extra fees;
- Consumers enjoy a Europe-wide right of withdrawal within 14 days, doubling the previously foreseen 7 days. If a consumer is not clearly informed about this withdrawal period by the trader, this period is automatically extended to one year;
- If a contract is cancelled by the consumer for any reason, a full refund shall be made within 14 days, including costs of delivery;
- Extra charges for payments with credit cards and increased fees for so called hot-lines provided by traders are banned.
Regular Internet users shall have noticed that leading e-commerce websites have already improved the transparency of their chargers or their terms and conditions, as result of the early implementation of this EU law in some Member States.
The Directive has now been transposed in all the Member States except in Bulgaria and Poland.
If you would like more detailed information, please find the full text of the Directive here, and your related national legislation in force.