‘New Deal’ for consumers boosts consumer rights and law.
The EU currently has some of the stongest consumer protection rules in the world. The rights the EU has put in place for consumers give predictability and confidence to both consumers and businesses and include the right to safe products, the right to return a product bought online within 14 days and the right to have a product repaired or replaced within a guarantee period. These are just some of the discernible rights that make a difference to peoples lives. These shared rights have arguably created a greater consumer trust in companies that comply with the rules, in turn boosting trade, nurturing growth and creating jobs.
Following a major evaluation of the EU consumer law directives, the EU has announced it’s long awaited ‘New Deal’ for consumers.
Why is the commission proposing the ‘New Deal’ for Consumers?
The commission’s ‘New Deal’ for consumers is a proposal that will guarantee all European consumers fully benefit from their rights. It will also strengthen the public and private enforcement of these rules, ensuring that authorities have the power to impose sanctions and consumers can claim compensation if their rights are breached.
So what is the ‘New Deal’ for consumers?
The ‘New Deal’ for consumers will give individuals stronger consumer rights and additional tools to obtain redress if your rights are violated. The new rules address 6 key areas the commission wanted to cover in greater detail and are listed below:
Protection against unfair commercial practices.
Unfair commercial practices are illegal under consumer law. However EU law currently does not regulate what consumers can do when they are harmed by such practices.
Example: You arrive at your family holiday destination having booked a hotel with a pool, you are told that the pool is closed for repairs.
The ‘New Deal’: will ensure consumers have the right to individual redress, such as financial compensation when customers are affected by misleading marketing.
Transparency in online marketplaces.
Consumers should always be informed about who is selling products or services online and whether the seller is a professional or another customer. This will make it easier for you to know your rights and to know where to turn in case of a problem.
Example: You buy and item online and were not told at the time of purchase you were purchasing it from a private individual. This means that you do not have the consumer rights you would benefit from when buying from a professional seller, you have no legal guarantee if the goods are faulty or the right to return within the 14 day period.
The ‘New Deal’: The online marketplace must clearly state whether you buy from a professional or a private individual and whether you are protected under consumer law.
Protection against aggressive doorstep selling practices.
Aggressive and misleading marketing practices are illegal under EU law along with unsolicited commercial visits to a consumers home, particularly when selling products in an aggressive manner to vulnerable consumers, such as the elderly. Consumers can withdraw from contracts concluded in such a manner within 14 days.
Example: Vulnerable customers being coerced into purchasing items they did not want by aggressive traders visiting their homes.
The ‘New Deal’: EU member states can enforce additional rules on unsolicited visits by a trader to a consumers home. Additional rules must be justified on grounds of public policy and the protection of ‘Private life’.
Same consumer rights for free digital services.
In the same way as you are able to cancel your online contract for a paid digital service within 14 days, you will be able to cancel contracts for which you do not pay money for.
Example: A free dating application asks you to fill in your name, gender, age, location and email address before you can log in.
The ‘New Deal’: Customer must be provided with clear information about the contact duration and termination conditions, and the right to freely cancel your account within 14 days.
A new tool to obtain collective redress.
If a large number of consumers are harmed by the same trader, it will be possible for them to be represented by a non-profit organisation.
Example: A company sells a product to hundreds of customers, the item is faulty and the company fails to recall the item.
The ‘New Deal’: A national not-for-profit, government regulated, organisation can lodge a representative action against the company on behalf of the consumers.
Ban on misleading marketing of lower quality products.
The EU is targeting the food and beverage industry as consumers are being mislead by companies selling the idea of a globally consistent brand whilst providing the consumer with a cheaper, lower quality version.
Example: Frozen Fish Fingers containing less fish in different member states, despite being marketed in the same packaging.
The ‘New Deal’: It is EU law that marketing products in the same branding and packaging, while offering a significantly different product and not informing the consumer of this is unfair commercial practice, and is misleading to consumers.
The ‘New Deal’ ensures European consumers and businesses alike will be guaranteed the certainty and protection they need. It is about empowering consumers, promoting fairness and building trust within the single market. It will ensure that there are no second class consumers and that businesses operate in a regulatory framework fit for today’s challenges.
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