EU working on bill of rights for online shoppers

The European Commission has proposed a set of rights for online shoppers based in the EU in order to make buying products online easier, safer, and more consumer-friendly. The Commission says that the goal in proposing these rights is to not only boost consumer confidence, but to also "cut red tape which is holding back business within national borders??”denying consumers more choice and competitive offers." The more consumers are willing to shop outside of their home country's borders, the more e-commerce will grow within the EU.

As part of the proposal, online shoppers will have access to clear information on pricing and additional charges before signing a contract. There would also be strengthened consumer protection against late or non-delivery and tightened rules on cooling-off periods, returns, refunds, and repairs. For example, the EC proposes that a trader get a maximum of 30 calendar days to deliver goods to the consumer, and that the seller bears the risks associated with a purchase rather of the consumer. There will even be a blacklist of unfair contract terms that will be prohibited across the entire EU, as well as a gray list of terms that are deemed unfair if the trader fails to prove otherwise. The proposed changes would even apply to online auctions.

"With household budgets under strain and purchasing power at the top of citizens' concerns, it has never been more important for consumers to be able to compare prices and shop around to get the best value on offer," said EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva in a statement. "These new rules are designed to strengthen protection and close the loopholes in key areas that are undermining consumer trust. The Single Market has the potential to deliver a lot more choice and opportunities for consumers. But for that we need an EU-wide safety net of rights so consumers have the security they need to shop around with peace of mind."

Currently, roughly a third of all EU citizens shop online, and of that 150 million, only 30 million shop online across national borders. The EC points out that these numbers demonstrate the "enormous potential" of the online market if more citizens were confident in shopping across national borders.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: EU

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