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NEW : Commission Communication on the Implementation of the Distance Selling Directive.

The purpose of the Communication is to examine how Member States have implemented the Directive. All interested parties were invited to submit replies to the Commission by 21 November 2006. The Commission has made available the replies to the consultation and a short summary of the responses.

The aim of EC legislation in the field of distance selling is to put consumers who purchase goods or services through distance communication means in a similar position to consumers who buy goods or services in shops.

The directive therefore applies to most contracts where a consumer and a supplier running an organised distance-selling scheme do not meet face to face at any stage until after the contract has been concluded.

Distance communication means include traditional means of distance of communication such as press adverts accompanied by order forms, catalogue sales, telephone. It also covers more technologically advanced means of distance communication such as teleshopping, mobile phone commerce (m-commerce), and the use of the Internet (e-commerce).

The Distance Selling Directive applies to any consumer distance contract made under the law of an EU-Member State as well as the European Economic Area (EEA). It provides a number of fundamental legal rights for consumers in order to ensure a high level of consumer protection throughout the EU. These include:

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Provision of comprehensive information before the purchase;

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Confirmation of that information in a durable medium (such as written confirmation);

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Consumer's right to cancel the contract within a minimum of 7 working days without giving any reason and without penalty, except the cost of returning the goods (right of withdrawal);

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Where the consumer has cancelled the contract, the right to a refund within 30 days of cancellation;

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Delivery of the goods or performance of the service within 30 days of the day after the consumer placed his order;

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Protection from unsolicited selling;

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Protection from fraudulent use of payment cards;

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Non validity of any waiver of the rights and obligations provided for under the directive, whether instigated by the consumer or the supplier.

Some types of contracts are excluded from all the provisions of the directive. The exemptions include contracts for financial services and contracts concluded through an auction. Contracts for financial services are covered by the Distance Marketing of Financial Services Directive 2002/65/EC.

Other types of contracts are excluded from the core provisions of the directive, such as the provision of comprehensible information before the purchase and the right to cancel the contract. These include contracts for services to be performed on a specific date or within a specific period such as hotel room bookings, travel or concert tickets.

There are also some exemptions from the right of withdrawal. These will apply unless the consumer and supplier agree otherwise. These exemptions cover, for instance, goods made to the consumer's specifications and perishable goods.

The directive had to be implemented into national legal systems by 4 June 2000. The directive also allows for the introduction or maintenance of further national rules to create a higher level of consumer protection.

The Commission is currently conducting a review of 8 directives protecting consumers' economic interests, including the Distance Selling Directive.

Report ES DA DE EL FR IT NL PT FI SV pdf from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on Consumer complaints in respect of distance selling and comparative advertising (Article 17 of Directive 97/7/EC on distance contracts and Article 2 of Directive 97/55/EC on comparative advertising, 10 March 2000)

Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 1997 on the Protection of Consumers in respect of Distance Contracts

Brief overview DE FR

EC Consumer Law Compendium: a Comparative Analysis and a database of the EU Consumer Law Acquis

Submissions to the consultation on the Directive on Distance Selling (11 MB)
Summary of the responses to the consultation on distance selling

 
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