How are the upcoming changes to consumer rights going to affect retailers?

Etailers in particular need to be aware of future changes to consumer rights

Retailers, and especially etailers, need to be aware of important changes coming into force following the EU’s attempt to simplify consumer rights through the Consumer Rights Directive.

The provisions of the directive must be implemented by December 13, 2013, and will apply to all contracts concluded after June 13, 2014.

Ashley Borthwick, specialist commercial lawyer at law firm TLT, says: “Retailers should review their procedures well in advance to ensure they are compliant when the changes come into force.”

The proposed changes include an extension of the ‘cooling off period’, under which a consumer can change their mind about a purchase for any reason. It is being extended from seven days to 14.

The period will run from the time that the goods are received, rather than from the conclusion of the contract, which is the case at present. These provisions will apply to online auctions for the first time.

Borthwick says consumers will be entitled to reimbursement of any extra “drip down” payments they are required to actively opt-out of. For example, pre-selected boxes that add-on insurance when selling mobile phones will be banned.

From April 6, 2013 surcharges for payments made by credit or debit card, or any other form of payment, will be banned where these costs exceed those incurred by the retailer.

Borthwick says: “These changes reflect a clear shift in favour of clarity and enhanced rights for consumers and will significantly alter the way retailers can offer their goods for sale.”