In two years, when the Consumer Rights Directive comes into force, consumers will enjoy several new shopping rights. We’d hoped for more at Which?, but there are a few things we can all look forward to.
A Consumer Rights Directive has been passed by the Council and European Parliament. Sadly we’ll have to wait until June 2014 before it’s implemented in the UK. Still, there are a number of new rules that should be good news for shoppers, so how will they affect you?
First, returning unwanted goods. I recently bought a bicycle online. It was very much a spur of the moment lunchtime purchase – had I changed my mind and wanted to return it for a full refund, I would have had to send it back within 7 days.
Once the new rules come into force you’ll have 14 days from the date of delivery to change your mind and get a full refund. And if the retailer doesn’t inform you of this right? Well, you’ll have up to a year to return your purchase.
I’m excited about this as I’ve bought stuff online before that looked great on the website, only to find it was slightly less amazing upon arrival. In these cases I often didn’t have enough time to get to the post office within the current 7-day time limit. Another week could make things much easier.
Clear rules on who pays for the return
There are other online shopping bonuses in the Directive. Firstly, retailers will have to clearly tell consumers that they’ll have to pay to return their goods beforehand. If they don’t, then the retailer will have to pay instead.
That’s all fine and dandy if you’re ordering a book or a DVD, but take the example of my bike – I have no idea how much it would cost to send it to the next postcode, let alone another part of the country.
Thankfully, the new rules will also require retailers to give us an estimate of the maximum cost for sending back bulky goods when bought online or by mail order.
No more rip-off surcharges or pre-ticked boxes
The Directive will also limit the amount businesses can charge consumers for paying by credit or debit card. However, as much as this is good news, we’d prefer the Financial Secretary Mark Hoban to ban rip-off surcharges now, rather than having to wait another two years.
Finally, do you get annoyed with having to un-tick a series of boxes that have opted you into travel insurance, car rental or extra legroom, when all you really want is a standard flight seat? Good news – the practice will become a thing of the past as the Directive bans all businesses from opting you into anything extra with tick boxes when you shop online.
So it’s clear that the Directive offers plenty of goodies for shoppers, but which of the new rules are you most excited about? And have you had any problems that could have been avoided had the Consumer Rights Directive already been in place?