An EU-wide right for consumers to change their minds about an on-line purchase within two weeks of receiving the good, and new requirements that on-line traders must give buyers precise information on the total price, the goods ordered and the trader's contact details, are among the benefits of new rules approved by Parliament on Thursday.
"We wanted to regulate mainly off-premises and distance contracts such as online trading, as this is where the most cross-border sales take place", commented Parliament's rapporteur and chief negotiator Andreas Schwab (EPP, DE), adding that "The new directive is thus a good example of how more Europe brings more benefits to consumers and traders alike. We have reached a well-balanced deal which meets both calls from consumers and business interests".
The new rules, approved with 615 votes in favour, 16 against and 21 abstentions, will strengthen protection for online shoppers and will also specify rules on delivery and digital downloads whilst cutting red tape for small and medium sized businesses. Under the new regime consumers have 14 days in which to consider whether they want to keep a product, followed by an additional 14 days to send it back. This might also imply that sellers could lose out on products for up to a month - not exactly rosy prospects for trend-sensitive product segments such as consumer electronics.
In late May several European organizations had sent an open letter to Brussels in which they expressed sharp criticism of the consumer-rights guideline, and spoke of a billion dollar loss to the e-commerce sector.
Sarah Woodjetts Internet Expert and Ecommerce Consultant blogs on the internet and ecommerce.
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