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Knowing consumer rights in Europe for eCommerce Businesses - Alan Rhode


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Alan is a specialist on VAT, customs duties, sales tax and other tax matters relating to the digital sector.In this presentation, Alan talks about various consumer rights that any online retailers should consider.

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Knowing consumer rights in Europe for eCommerce Businesses - Alan Rhode

  1. 1. Online Seller Meetup – London Alan M. Rhode 29 September 2017 Knowing Consumer Rights in Europe for eCommerce Businesses
  2. 2. Crossborder e-commerce consumer law Product returns E-SHOP 2 Statutory guarantees Consumer disputes Terms of Sale
  3. 3. Terms of Sale • If your run an online store, you need to draft and publish your own the Terms of Sale. • Terms of Sale vs. Terms of Use vs. Privacy/Cookie • In most cases, Marketplace sellers must abide to the Marketplace Terms of Sale. • Minimum statutory content for an online store’s Terms of Sale. 3
  4. 4. Terms of Sale – minimum content • Non-exhaustive list:  Seller’s identity  Main product features  Product price  Any additional charges  Delivery method and timing  Right of return (in detail)  Mentioning other statutory consumer rights  Commercial guarantee, if any 4
  5. 5. Product returns • Right to cancel an order: all EU national laws allow consumers to cancel online sales within 14 days from the delivery date without giving any explanations. • Exemptions: customised products, fresh food products, concert tickets, etc. • The customer must return the unused goods within 14 days of informing the seller. • The seller must make a refund within 14 days of (a) either getting the goods back, or (b) receiving evidence of product return (e.g., proof of postage), whichever the earliest. 5
  6. 6. Product returns (2) • Product refund must include the shipping costs for initial delivery. • The merchant is not required to pay the shipping costs to return the product, unless it has offered to do so in the Terms of Sale. • The merchant can insert more favourable terms in the Terms of Sale (e.g., 30-day cancellation period). • Failure to inform consumers of their statutory right of returning products leads to an extension of the cancellation period up to 1 year. 6
  7. 7. Product returns (3) • The merchant can give a partial refund or deny refund if the customer has diminished the value of the goods by handling them beyond what necessary to establish their nature/characteristics or function (e.g., removing labels, staining the product, etc.). • “The returns policy offered by Marketplace Sellers must be equivalent to or better than the returns policy offered by (except in the case of's extended Christmas returns policy” • Even if you are right: be careful about poor reviews, bad ratings, etc.! 7
  8. 8. Statutory guarantee • Merchants must supply consumers with products which are in conformity with the relevant contract of sale = no flawed or faulty products • Conformity means: 1. The product must be of satisfactory quality; 2. The product must be fit for purpose; and 3. The product should be what the consumer expects; 4. Where the supplier is to install the goods, this must be done properly. 8
  9. 9. Statutory guarantee (2) • Duration: the lenght of the guarantee varies among EU states. It cannot be shorter than 2 yers from the date of delivery. • UK: if there is a flaw, it lasts up to 6 years (5 years in Scotland) However, after 6 months there is a reverse of the burden of proof against the consumer. • UK Remedies: 1. 30-day right to reject for consumer; 2. Merchant offers repairing or replacement; 3. Reduction of price or refund, if 2) above is too costly or unavailable 9
  10. 10. Statutory guarantee (3) • Merchant’s upstream right of redress against the distributor/produce for faulty products. • Statutory guarantee vs. commercial guarantee. • A commercial guarantee is a voluntary service of the manufacturer, trader or third parties, usually a minimum life period for the product. 10
  11. 11. Disputes • Most marketplaces hold customer complaint procedures the merchant must follow. 11