The new EU Consumer Rights Directive comes into force today, Friday 13 June 2014, granting consumers further rights across the European Union. The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulation 2013 replaces the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 and the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc Regulations 2008. It applies to contracts entered into on or after 13 June 2014 whether made at your premises, off your premises or through distance sales (e.g. online or via telephone).
Some of the new changes include:
- Increasing the right to cancel (‘cooling off period’) from 7 days to 14 days.
- for a goods contract the 14 day period starts when the goods are received;and
- for a services contract the 14 day period starts when the contract is entered into, but if the consumer is not told they have a right to cancel, then the 14 day period is extended from the date that you tell them about the right to cancel;
- Refunds to consumers must be within 14 days of cancellation, including the cost of delivery.
- Retailers are required to pay for returns unless they have specifically informed the consumer that the consumer is to bear the cost and have provided an estimate in advance.
- All price information must be given up front (banning hidden fees and charges).
- Consumers must be provided with a written copy of the contract.
- Consumers must expressly acknowledge they agree to pay for something before they are charged.
- Removal of pre-ticked boxes for additional purchases.
- Traders are liable for the risk of the goods until they are in the possession of the consumer or a person delegated to receive the goods.
- Goods must be delivered within 30 days.
- Card fees must reflect the actual cost of processing a payment and cannot be excessive.
- When purchasing digital content, retailers must provide clear details with regards to software and hardware requirements any digital content works with and provide information on the copyright protections.
The changes will result in greater protection for consumers and will require business to evaluate its current processes, ensuring all its legal documentation and contracts are updated accordingly.