Commercial: New EU Distance Selling Rules:

The European Council has adopted a new consumer rights directive which applies to all 27 EU nations. The new consumer directive replaces the existing distance selling directive. The new consumer rights directive harmonises all rules within the EU, so that the same level of consumer protection applies throughout the member states.

The most important points are as follows:

  • Consumers in all states will have a 14 day cooling off period in which to cancel the contract as opposed to the 7 days which applies now.
  • Traders will then have to refund the consumer within 14 days of receiving the notice of cancellation, as opposed to the 30 days which applies now.
  • If they are not advised of their rights of returns then it extends the cooling off period by 12 months from the end of the 14 day cooling off period.
  • The trader bears the costs of returns unless the contract specifically states that it is the consumer who is responsible for these costs.
  • Traders are not allowed to introduce surcharges for payment methods for credit or debit cards over and above what it costs the retailer.
  • There is a ban on pre-ticked boxes such as in travel insurance or car hire.
  • If a date of delivery is agreed it must be delivered within a maximum of 30 days.

Retailers will have to review their websites and sales processes to ensure that they meet the new directives requirements when they come into force.

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