Which? welcomes proposals from the European Commission to help EU consumers resolve disputes with traders by improving access to alternative dispute resolution services.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘By far the biggest barrier to UK consumers buying from EU retailers is the fear that there’s nowhere to turn if something goes wrong.’
The European Commission has unveiled a package of legislative proposals to ensure that all EU consumers can solve their problems with goods and services they’ve purchased without going to court.
Richard Lloyd said: ‘This would be far more likely to encourage cross-border sales than the recently proposed Common Sales Law, which could actually reduce the level of protection enjoyed by UK consumers.’
The proposals would apply regardless of the kind of product or service that the contractual dispute is about and regardless of where they bought it – whether it was at home or abroad.
This will mean UK consumers buying goods from abroad will have access to an easy online process should something go wrong with their purchase or their bought items.
For consumers shopping online from another EU country, the Commission wants to create an EU-wide single online platform, which will solve contractual disputes entirely online within 30 days.
Statistics from the European Commission show one in five European consumers encountered problems when buying goods and services in 2010.
Dispute with traders
At present, out-of-court dispute resolution in the EU only applies to some business sectors.
The proposed Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumers (ADR Directive) will ensure that quality out-of-court entities exist to deal with any contractual dispute between a consumer and a business.