Consumer spending

EU introduces new rules to bolster consumer protections

10530873-european-union-logoNew rules introduced in the EU this month will give European shoppers additional consumer protections, especially online.

Under the new rules–applicable to all 28 EU member states–consumers have 14 days to return online and mail order purchases for any reason.

Merchants are required to refund the entire purchase, including shipping costs, within 14 days from the date of cancellation, and merchants that expect consumers to bear the cost of return must disclose that up front.

Pre-ticked boxes, which often require the consumer to opt out of additional costs and services, are prohibited under the rules, and merchants will be required to make the total cost of a product or service clear at the beginning of the sale.

Surcharges on credit card purchases will also be capped under the new rule, and merchants will only be able to charge what they actually pay by offering the payment option.

Additionally, traders operating expensive premium rate hotlines will be prohibited from charging more than the basic rate for a standard phone call. The new rules, which were originally agreed to in 2011, were implemented as part of the Consumer Rights Directive.

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