Shopping online across the EU - what you should know
UK consumers no longer need to be unaware of their rights regarding their 'cooling-off period' in distance selling - consumer advice organisation UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) has come to the rescue with a new leaflet called 'Shopping online across the EU - What you should know'.
Andy Allen, UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) Director, said: "A recent consumer market study commissioned by the European Commission showed that just 70% of UK consumers are aware of their rights regarding the cooling-off period when buying goods by internet, post or phone.
"So it's clear that many people shopping online within the EU may not fully understand what rights they have for online purchases or what rules traders need to follow."
The Distance Selling Directive means that consumers have a cooling-off period, beginning the day after delivery of goods, during which a contract can be cancelled for any reason, including a change of mind.
The study asked the question: 'Suppose you ordered goods by post, phone or the internet, do you think you have the right to return them four days after its delivery and get your money back, without giving any reason?' Even though different countries within the EU have difference cooling off periods, the minimum is seven working days.
The question was designed so that 'YES' was the correct answer in every country surveyed.
Just 70% of UK consumers surveyed are aware of their right to return goods without giving a reason for a full refund four days after delivery (regarding the cooling-off period in distance selling by internet, post or phone), 23% believe it isn't possible, whilst the remainder (7%) do not know their rights.
Andy Allen said: "We felt, in view of the statistics showing that not everyone is aware of their rights regarding the cooling-off period, that it was time us to remind consumers of their rights in distance selling."
The cooling-off period in distance selling purchases accounted for 74 complaints to the UK European Consumer Centre from August 2012 to the end of July 2013, exactly the same number as the previous year.
The leaflet, available online at www.ukecc.net, offers practical advice about what consumers should do before entering a contract as well as outlining rights under the Distance Selling Directive and the E -Commerce Directive. It also links to an interactive website tool for shopping online, called Howard.
Notes to Editors
For further information please contact UK European Consumer Centre’s press office on 08456 08 96 06.
•The consumer market study Special Eurobarometer 342 'Consumer empowerment' was published in April 2011 for the European Commission. It was coordinated by the Directorate-General for Communication.
•UK European Consumer Centre consumer complaint line – 08456 04 05 03
The UK European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 29 centres covering Europe, plus Iceland and Norway. The aim of the network is to provide advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK. The Network will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.
UK ECC can provide advice in the following main areas: buying goods and services, online shopping, internet auctions, holidays, timeshare and holiday clubs, air travel.
UK ECC is co-funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the European Commission.
The UK ECC service is delivered by the Trading Standards Institute (www.tsi.org.uk)
Media queries should sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 08456 08 96 06.
•The UK ECC provides advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK and will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.
•Consumers can make contact with the UK European Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.net – or by phone on 08456 04 05 03 weekdays between 10am and 3pm.
•If in doubt before you buy, contact our sister organisation – the European Consumer Centre for Services – for pre-purchasing advice: www.ukecc-services.net
DATE: 07 August 2013