The European Union Consumer Rights Directive of June 2014 aims to protect the rights of e-commerce customers and bring them on par with the rights of customers who buy from brick and mortar retail. It is important for e-retailers, especially merchants who are shipping products into the European Union to be aware of some of the key requirements of this directive to protect themselves. These key provisions relate primarily to customer returns. The full text of the EU directive is accessible here.
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Requirement to disclose names and location of the e-commerce retailer and the manufacturer
The directive requires the e-retailer to disclose the name, location, telephone and e-mail ids of the manufacturer whose product he is selling. Since e-commerce vendors often represent hundreds of independent and often competing manufacturers, this can be a challenge.
Requirement to disclose total price inclusive of taxes, freight and delivery charges
Where total price cannot be calculated in advance, the fact that the final price would be different from the indicated price should be prominently shown. In addition, the method of calculating the additional charges should be illustrated.
The EU directive also requires the website to include a button “Pay Now” that must be activated by the customer to complete the transaction after all price information has been displayed to the customer.
Time limit of 30 days for delivery of goods
The e-commerce retailer is required to indicate the time period for delivery of the goods ordered or the service to be performed. He can indicate a time period such as 10 days or 2 weeks from placement of order and does not have to indicate a specific calendar date. If a specific time period is not indicated, the default time period is 30 days.
Guarantees of performance and after sales service
The e-retailer is required to provide legal guarantee of the goods being in conformity with specifications and assurance of after sales service, where applicable, for at least 2 years from date of purchase.
Right of order cancellation within 14 days
The EU directive provides the consumer with the absolute right to cancel an order within 14 calendar days of receiving physical delivery of an order without giving any reason and without incurring any costs. When the order is delivered in multiple lots, the 14 day period applies from the date of receipt of the last lot. The customer may be required to bear return postage or freight costs where he has been so informed prior to order placement. The e-retailer is also required to provide an estimate of the cost of return to the consumer.
When the consumer notifies the e-retailer of a defect in the supplied product, the 14 day period applies from the date of such notification.
Refunds within 14 days for order cancellation
When there is an order cancellation, the directive requires the e-retailer to refund all payments collected from the customer, including any payments for taxes and freight. The refund should be through the same means as used by the customer for making the payment and there should be no charges for this refund.
The only exception is where the customer required express shipment for which there was an extra charge, notified to the customer. The trader has to reimburse only the cost of normal shipments.
The refund action should be completed within 14 days of the customer forwarding “proof of return” (such as a receipt of collection by freight forwarder). If the customer is required to pay the cost of freight for return, it must be specifically indicated on the website. If not so indicated, the retailer must bear the cost of return.
The retailer cannot wait for receipt of goods or examination of condition. Any issues relating to mishandling or misuse by the consumer have to be taken up independent of this time limit.
The Yakit e-commerce platform has been designed to make it possible for the e-retailer to comply with many of the provisions of the EU directive. The taxes and freight are easy to calculate. The delivery times are predictable. The orders can be fully tracked and reverse logistics can be conveniently handled.