Better protection for consumers
Press release of the Council of Ministers
Dutch consumers will be profiting from new European legislation on consumer rights. They will be better protected when purchasing products and services, also when purchasing abroad. The Council of Ministers has consented to the transposition of a European Directive on this subject into Dutch legislation.
The European Directive ensures that consumers all over the European Union (EU) will have equal rights. At present, this is not the case: the rules for consumers vary considerably between Member States. Consequently, consumers cannot be sure they will receive the same protection in another Member State. The different rules also create an impediment for businesses seeking to offer their products and services abroad. The Directive will have a positive effect, both on trading activities between European Member States and for consumers, who will profit more from the advantages of an internal market: more choice at lower prices.
Advantages for purchasers
As an example, the term within which consumers may cancel their purchase will be the same in all EU countries. Whenever a person buys a product online or at the door, a standard term of 14 days applies for cancelling the purchase without being required to state a reason. However, the consumer must return the product within 14 days. Additionally, the seller must provide the consumer with clear information on e.g. the term of the contract and additional costs, if any. Another new aspect is that the risk of damage and loss will pass to the buyer only after the product has been received. The legislative proposal also includes uniform regulations in the event of late delivery by the seller.
Ban on tacit consent
Also, the so-called tacit consent to additional services or purchases will be prohibited. An example is the order of a bus ticket online, where the consumer is offered an additional meal service –for a certain price – for which the box has already been ticked to accept the meal service. This will no longer be allowed. The consumer must explicitly agree to the offer, for example by means of an (electronic) signature or by typing the words “I agree”. Furthermore, agreements concluded by telephone will be effective only after having been confirmed by the consumer in writing or by e-mail. An example is the supply of electricity, water, gas and district heating.
Buying digital products
Finally, the legislative proposal offers protection for consumers in the digital world, by requiring the seller to provide consumers with additional information in advance for the purchase of or access to digital content, such as music and video services. Such information may include security measures and the eligible media for the services. Here again, consumers may cancel the purchase within 14 days.
The Council of Ministers has agreed to submit the legislative proposal to the Council of State for its opinion. The text of the legislative proposal and the Council of State’s opinion will be published upon presenting the proposal to the Lower House of Parliament.