European Parliament approves online shopping laws

The Consumer Rights Directive gives buyers the right to return goods and outlaws pre-ticked boxes

The European Parliament has approved new European Union-wide rules for online shopping.

The Consumer Rights Directive gives European buyers the right to change their minds about an online purchase within two weeks of receiving the goods. It also puts an end to hidden charges by outlawing the use of "pre-ticked" boxes on retail websites.

The directive, which revises previous laws, was approved by an overwhelming majority, with 615 votes in favor, 16 against and 21 abstentions. "We wanted to regulate off-premises and distance contracts such as online trading, as this is where the most cross-border sales take place," explained the European Parliament's chief negotiator Andreas Schwab.

Regulations safeguarding consumer rights prior to the new directive pre-date the digital revolution, leaving European consumers poorly protected when shopping online. As a result, only around 7 percent of Internet users have placed cross-border orders within the E.U., compared to an overall figure of 40 percent of consumers who buy online. According to the Parliament, this is largely due to concern about late delivery or non-delivery of goods as well as big discrepancies between different member states' consumer protection laws.

But the majority vote belies the controversy surrounding the negotiations. Some groups, including the Business Software Alliance claimed that "the Consumer Rights Directive is not the appropriate instrument to address protection for digital services."

Digital goods, such as music, films or software programs, have been exempted from the right of withdrawal in the approved text. Those sales will be regarded as irreversible from the moment downloading begins.

Following Thursday's vote in Parliament, the last, formal approval by the Council of Ministers is expected to take place in July. Member states will have a maximum of two years to implement the new rules.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags business issueslegalgovernment

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?