The Consumer Rights Directive 2013 Improve Customer Rights

What’s all this mean then? Something that consumers can approve of that the EU has achieved? These new regulations come into force on the 13th June 2014 and replace the distance selling regulations 2000 and ‘doorstep’ selling regulations 2008. The aim was to ensure that consumers would be confident in buying anywhere in Europe.

Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012;
Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013; and
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading (Amendment) Regulations.

The implementation has a significant effect in modernising consumer law, much of which was written 20 -30 years ago, particularly in relation to digital content that of course was not previously covered.  The new laws have introduced a new distinct category to deal specifically with digital content, which will sit along-side existing categories dealing with the provision of goods and services. Part of the Consumer Rights Directive has already been implemented by way of the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012, which came into force in April 2013. The Regulations mean traders can no longer charge consumers fees that exceed “the cost borne by the trader” for the use of a particular means of payment whether cheque, direct debit, debit or credit card, or other.

The information which a trader must give to a consumer before and after making a sale

This is the need to ensure the customer understands what goods and services are being provided and ensuring there are no hidden costs. If the paperwork does not comply with the new requirements the consumer may not have to pay. When retailers send you email confirmation of the purchase this must now include a full description of the goods and services purchased including their characteristics and the full price including tax and any additional charges or delivery prices.

How that information should be given

The purpose of the ‘durable medium’ requirement is to ensure that, should a dispute arise at some point after the contract has been concluded, both parties have a record about what was agreed. The burden of proof that the relevant information has been provided rests with the trader.

The right for consumers to change their minds when buying at a distance or off-premises

Consumers now have 14 days to return items because they change their mind. In addition, refunds on cancelled contracts can be delayed until goods are returned. However, if the company has not provided the right information to the consumer then the length of the cooling off period could be extended. Although there are some exemptions, such as bespoke items, downloads have now been added and is no longer exempt. So, if like me you purchase the wrong download by mistake you can now get your money back! If you have downloaded then you won’t get your money back which seems fair enough really!

Unless stated otherwise you will pay for the return postage for any change of mind purchase.

Delivery times and passing of risk

Unless agreed with the trader, goods should be delivered without undue delay and within 30 days. If a particular date or period for delivery has been agreed then delivery should be within that time.

A prohibition on any additional payments which appear as a default option

Traders will need the active consent of the consumer for all payments – e.g. pre-ticked boxes for additional payments, will no longer be permitted. Consumers will not be liable for costs which they have not been told, pre-contract, that they must bear. Even I’ve been caught out by a certain large on line retailer which doesn’t like paying taxes with this. I got my money back when I challenged them with unfair practice but now I have more Laws to throw at them if they do it after June 13th!

A prohibition on consumers having to pay more than the basic rate for post-contract customer helplines

Where traders offer telephone helplines for consumers to contact them about something they have bought, there should be a number available on which the consumer can call for this purpose at no more than the basic rate.

So all in all this is good news for the consumer. In particular, the much requested banning of high rate numbers for customer service and complaint lines, traders now have to supply basic rate numbers. It’s really good too to see downloadable digital content covered by these regulations too.

So, all good news for the consumer, more legislation to follow later in the year.

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How to ensure banks don’t break the Misrepresentation Act 1967

When I went on holiday to The Philippines I used the Martin Lewis (Moneysaving Expert) website to compare rates for money. The best deal was Nat West. So I bought the Pesos. When I went to take the money we hadn’t spent to be changed, the assistant told me that they couldn’t exchange without charging commission. Really? Not what it says on the website. Tut tut that would be a breach of the Misrepresentation Act 1967 then. (When you enter an agreement on the basis of a statement purporting to be a fact but which turns out to be untrue, you have the right to cancel the deal and get your money back or to compensation). You can also do this under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. Nat West staff wouldn’t have it though. Nor when I went back again to see someone senior!

So, obviously I did not pay the commission! I wrote. I pointed out the error of their ways. Namely that they stated no commission fees on the website and that I would be informing Martin Lewis so that they could take Nat West off the site. I expected redress for having to make another journey, parking costs, time wasted on this matter and the inconvenience.

Think that worried them! They wrote acknowledging the mistakes and asking me to ‘phone them to discuss the matter. I don’t do that. Write not phone for many a reason. So I wrote again. I made it clear that I would not be wasting any more time discussing the matter all the details were in the letter and suggested they ensured that when I took the money back that staff were properly informed and that I received adequate redress. Two trips and three letters I’ll have good redress thank you. My time is precious you know!

NAT WEST compress

Nat West gave me £250. The amount I was exchanging was less than £100! However, the amount reflected their concerns about my informing Martin Lewis methinks! That or they realised too that my time is precious!?

Never ever just give in to bad service. If they say no commission for exchanging money ensure that they keep to the promise. They are breaking the Law if they don’t. It’s because people can’t be bothered to complain and take the time to write a letter that bad practice continues.

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

For more information on banks and template letters for complaints about charges and many other sectors etc. see How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, redress and Results!

 

 

 

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