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

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