Online shoppers across Europe now have new rights

While shopping on the web has exploded in popularity in recent years, there are still some who prefer to buy their stuff in good ol’ fashioned brick and mortar stores. But new laws have come into force across Europe to protect those who buy online, which may help to alleviate some of the concerns of online shopping hold-outs.

Previously, anyone who bought a product online was allowed seven business days during which they were able to change their mind and return the product for a full refund. This ‘cooling-off period’, during which a refund can be requested without being required to give a reason for the cancellation, has now been extended to fourteen calendar days from the date on which the goods are received.

Online retailers and providers are now also banned from 'pre-ticking' optional extras on order forms, such as those adding insurance to the cost of a purchase, as The Guardian notes. 

As before, certain products remain exempt from the new rules, such as bespoke and customised items. Companies are legally required to provide information about the customer’s right to cancel in advance.

For the first time, laws have also been introduced to offer a cooling-off period for digital content, including music, films and books, as BBC News reports. Consumers may now cancel an order for digital content within fourteen days, but only if they have not downloaded it. Once the download begins, the right to cancel is surrendered. Retailers must provide advance notice of this, and consumers must provide their acknowledgement and consent to these conditions prior to the start of the download.

Additionally, the new laws prevent companies from charging extortionate rates for customer services calls after the sale. In the United Kingdom, some firms had previously charged up to £0.41 GBP (€0.51 EUR / $0.70 USD) per minute for calls by customers making enquiries or complaints after their purchase; companies will now be forbidden from charging more than local rates for post-purchase calls, but they may still charge higher rates for calls made before the purchase.

In the UK, the new EU-wide rules are being enacted under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charge) Regulations, which also protect consumers ordering items by phone, and which replace the previous Distance Selling and Doorstep Selling Regulations. Similar legislation has been enforced, with immediate effect, across all 28 EU member states under the European Consumer Rights Directive.

Source: BBC News | lower image via Amazon

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft to release its first TV series for Xbox on June 15th

Next Story

Galaxy F comparison shot with S5 shows thinner bezel, larger screen

30 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Quote:
In the United Kingdom, some firms had previously charged up to £0.41 GBP per minute
for calls by customers making enquiries or complaints after their purchase; companies
will now be forbidden from charging more than local rates for post-purchase calls
Unquote.

Strictly speaking, such charges only apply if the calls are made via mobile phones, particularly if the
customer is on a Pay As You Go prepaid mobile tariff. If you make a customer service call via these
numbers from a landline, you'll be charged considerably less than 41p per minute.

Don't blame the e-commerce firms for such high call charges. Instead, blame the greedy mobile
phone networks for levying these costs on non-geographical phone numbers. They even have
the nerve to charge mobile customers standard rates for calling "freephone" numbers!

DJGM said,
Don't blame the e-commerce firms for such high call charges. Instead, blame the greedy mobile
phone networks for levying these costs on non-geographical phone numbers. They even have
the nerve to charge mobile customers standard rates for calling "freephone" numbers!

The rules should be changed by next year though.See the Ofcom report here: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org....atement/final-statement.pdf

Specifically:

Ofcom
Having taken account of stakeholder responses to the April 2013 policy position, and having completed the European consultation process and taken utmost account of comments from the EC, this statement now con firms our decision:

• to set a maximum retail price of zero for calls made by consumers to the 080 and 116 number ranges; and
• to introduce the unbundled tariff for calls made by consumers to the 084, 087, 09 and 118 number ranges.

and

Ofcom
with the exception of 118, there will be caps on the maximum rate of the service charge, according to the unbundled non-geographic number range. For example, the cap on the rate of the service charge for numbers in the 084 ranges will be 7p (inc. VAT) and the cap for numbers in the 087 range will be 13p (inc. VAT);

Good news mostly, although I wish they'd have extended the call charge cap to pre-purchase numbers. Still, our unelected government would have never implemented any of this (like the cap on bankers' bonuses or the ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, which they voted against), so it's nice to know the EU's looking out for us in a small way.

Still no EU wide digital rights though :|. Why cannot I legally access a service from the UK if I am in another EU country? I can do this with physical goods but not digital :/

In a word, copyright.

There are 28 different territories, and since that requires 28 different licenses people generally don't bother.

Thankfully, the Commission consulted on this a few months ago, gathering more than 11,000 responses. They're now working their way through them and there should be new legislation soon-ish.

I'm hoping that it'll be a Regulation rather than a Directive and will create a single EU territory for copyright purposes but who knows what the result will be at this point.

Althalus said,
Still no EU wide digital rights though :|. Why cannot I legally access a service from the UK if I am in another EU country? I can do this with physical goods but not digital :/

I'm not really sure what you mean other than the likes of the BBC. In which I fully agree you shouldn't have access to it, the British fund the BBC from our money, there is no reason why the rest of europe should get it for free.

Xbox is a prime example. If i had to turn my Hotmail account to Malta (my proper country), all services are blocked. Tried with a trail account on the X360 and i could not even get game updates.

Whats more sh*tty about having more days after a purchase to return the product. Not have expensive phone calls afterwards. And all in all as a consumer get more protection from companies.

And this finally gives us some ground on the Steam platform which has been breaking our rules for far too long now.

Err..You always could tell Steam to ###### off and refund. Their ToS is NOT above the local law.

Ive seen so many people who think "since its on ToS I cant do anything" - ToS is just a part of a service, but that service provider MUST act within local laws. Dont like it? Awww. lets go to court and see about that, they'll be also responsible about the court fees after that.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Err..You always could tell Steam to ###### off and refund. Their ToS is NOT above the local law.

Ive seen so many people who think "since its on ToS I cant do anything" - ToS is just a part of a service, but that service provider MUST act within local laws. Dont like it? Awww. lets go to court and see about that, they'll be also responsible about the court fees after that.

this sounds to me that the ToS can be exploited

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Err..You always could tell Steam to ###### off and refund. Their ToS is NOT above the local law.

Ive seen so many people who think "since its on ToS I cant do anything" - ToS is just a part of a service, but that service provider MUST act within local laws. Dont like it? Awww. lets go to court and see about that, they'll be also responsible about the court fees after that.


Getting legal help to do something about it here, since january 2013 became more expensive, making it far from worth it.
Plus as far as I know, only a few EU countries had this in their laws where you can return or resell anything you purchase. Now it has become an EU law, which will result in enough people complaining that the EU will look into it and will force Steam to comply. Saving me a bucket of money on legal expenses for <10euro games.

Origin implements a return policy though. Be it only 24 hours after purchase.

Shadowzz said,
And this finally gives us some ground on the Steam platform which has been breaking our rules for far too long now.

Did you not read only if you have not downloaded it but once the download begins, the right to cancel is surrendered.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Err..You always could tell Steam to ###### off and refund. Their ToS is NOT above the local law.

Ive seen so many people who think "since its on ToS I cant do anything" - ToS is just a part of a service, but that service provider MUST act within local laws. Dont like it? Awww. lets go to court and see about that, they'll be also responsible about the court fees after that.

Once you start a download right to cancel is surrendered.


Consumers may now cancel an order for digital content within fourteen days, but only if they have not downloaded it. Once the download begins, the right to cancel is surrendered. Retailers must provide advance notice of this, and consumers must provide their acknowledgement and consent to these conditions prior to the start of the download.

First off if you're having a problem with a faulty product you shouldn't have to pay a company to put it right which is what your doing by paying for support calls

shinji257 said,

Once you start a download right to cancel is surrendered.


Not the point, plenty of fake useless titles out on steam not worth their money.
And in a world without demo's (they are really rare) its "Pay first, then find out if you like the game or not"...

Shadowzz said,
And this finally gives us some ground on the Steam platform which has been breaking our rules for far too long now.

Oh god I hope this makes Newell soil himself... I am so sick of Steam.

Shadowzz said,

Not the point, plenty of fake useless titles out on steam not worth their money.
And in a world without demo's (they are really rare) its "Pay first, then find out if you like the game or not"...

That's why you look at user review. If you can...

Additionally, the new laws prevent companies from charging extortionate rates for customer services calls after the sale. In the United Kingdom, some firms had previously charged up to £0.41 GBP (€0.51 EUR / $0.70 USD) per minute for calls by customers making enquiries or complaints after their purchase; companies will now be forbidden from charging more than local rates for post-purchase calls, but they may still charge higher rates for calls made before the purchase.

If I'm not mistaken, as a customer, they now can not charge you more than 1 euro per call.

I think this is about time. Companies have been constantly skirting the rules. They first used 0870 numbers, until of com said you can't profit from them, then it was 0845, then it was 0871, etc, etc, etc.

I think the UK is the primary reason for this ruling - it basically means that companies cannot *profit* from phone calls.

Doesn't most of europe follow the 0900 0800 system? 0900 for paid numbers, 0800 for free ones(governmental numbers, silly enough, are usually behind the 0900 one... fun if you only have prepaid XD)? I thought my neighboring countries did at least.
But 30+ cents a minute is quite typical here too (average is way below the 70cents in the UK though). With the previous maximum of 17 euro's (not to sure whether or not this was NL only).

Anywho, all the more reason why you blimey bastards should drop the pound, start driving on the right side and stop skimping on the EU membership, we can use your full comitance.

Nope. 0870 was "national rate" but not included in allowances, 0871 is "premium rate, for special services", 0845 was "local rate but not included in allowances" and 0843 was "special local rate but not included in allowances". For example, if you had an 0870 number, you'd earn approx 2p/min from it, making it quite valuable. They've taken the profit out of them now though.

There's also 0844 numbers. I publicise my one instead of my landline (resolves to the same phone) to businesses exclusively. If they can have numbers that get them money from being called then so can I...

Shadowzz said,
Anywho, all the more reason why you blimey bastards should drop the pound, start driving on the right side and stop skimping on the EU membership, we can use your full comitance.

Absolutely not, the euro is a huge fundamental mess/joke and completely failed it's purpose. If the option was given to me tomorrow to switch over to the euro or pull out of europe completely, as much as I do like some of the EU protections given, I'd vote to leave the EU.