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Know and use your EU consumer rights
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Published on 14-03-14

Substantial progress has been made in the past year to help strengthen EU consumer rights, so it seems only fitting around European Consumer day we highlight some of those achievements. Only those consumers who aware of their rights can take full advantage and avoid being ripped-off.  And should things go wrong, know who to call.

    Know and use your EU consumer rights

    Strengthened consumer rights

    From 13 June 2014, the Consumer Rights Directive will introduce a number of new rules which include:

    - no more surcharges for the use of credit cards and hotlines;

    - greater price transparency rules mean traders will have to disclose the total cost of a product or service and shoppers will be safeguarded against any "hidden charges" or other "costs" not clearly outlined;

    - pre-ticked boxes on websites will be banned, such as for travel insurance when plane tickets are being purchased;

    - clearer information on who pays for goods to be returned;

    - online traps will be banned, such as internet "offers" advertising something as free when in reality it is not ie horoscope readings. More>

    Improved package travel protection

    Proposals to modernise and bolster EU rules on package travel holidays were published by the Commission in July 2013. They introduce protection for the 120 million consumers who buy customised travel, especially online, who are presently not covered under the existing rules. For example:

    - stricter controls on price surcharges (a 10% cap on price increases);

    - improved cancellation rights;

    - better redress and a single contact point should something go wrong.

    The proposed changes received overwhelming backing by MEPs on 12 March and now agreement will be sought on a final text of the directive between the MEPs and EU government representatives. More>

    Solving disputes out of court

    From July 2015 consumers and traders will be able to solve their disputes without going to court, in a quick, low-cost and simple way when EU governments implement EU rules on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Online Dispute Resolution. Under the new legislation consumers will be able to turn to quality alternative dispute resolution entities for all kinds of contractual disputes they have with traders: no matter what they purchased and whether they purchased it online or offline, domestically or across borders. An EU-wide online platform will be set up for disputes that arise from online transactions. More>

    European small claims procedure

    The European Small Claims Procedure has been in place since 2007 to help resolve small civil and commercial disputes. In November 2013, the Commission proposed improving the procedures so even more European consumers could benefit. The key change would raise the ceiling for filing a claim under the procedure to €10,000, up from €2,000. This move would particularly help small businesses as currently only 20% of business claims fall below the €2,000 threshold. Other proposals include capping court fees at 10% of the claim and cutting paperwork and travel costs by launching the procedure online. More>

    Stepping up enforcement

    In February 2014 the Commission met with representatives of the app industry and national authorities to address consumer concerns about game "apps" targeted at children, especially in relation to the marketing of "free to download" games which are not "free to play".  The industry was asked to commit to providing solutions within a clear timeframe to ensure proper consumer protection and the Commission will report back on this in due course.  More>  

    Doing more to solve consumer complaints

    2013 saw the European Consumer Centres (ECC-Net) deal with more complaints and requests for advice than ever before. In total, between 2010 and 2013, 120,000 enquiries where advice was sought from the ECC-Net were resolved satisfactorily. Advisers at the UK ECC dealt with more than 10,300 cases last year, a rise of 24% on 2012. More>

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    Last update: 20/03/2014  |Top