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Consumer Rights Directive to help consumers

MEPs take steps to improve rights

Which? was pleased to see a committee of the European Parliament propose some positive changes to the draft Consumer Rights Directive on 1 February 2011.

All members are expected to vote on the proposal in March. Which? hopes further positive steps are taken at next month’s vote so that the directive delivers real benefits for consumers.

The Consumer Rights Directive consolidates four key European Union (EU) consumer protection directives. They include directives on Distance Selling, Sale of Goods, Doorstep Selling and Unfair Contract Terms.

The European Commission’s aim is to modernise and simplify the existing rules of the four existing directives. The Commission want to encourage more businesses and consumers to trade across the borders by harmonising consumer protection rules across the EU.

Consumer Rights Directive

Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith said:

‘We’re delighted that MEPs are making positive steps towards improving consumer rights. Which? has long argued that it’s vital for consumers to be at the heart of these proposals and we’re now starting to see that become a reality.

We really hope that the European Parliament vote in March ensures that the Consumer Rights Directive really helps consumers, rather than hindering them.’

Credit card surcharges

Which? welcomes the decision to increase the cancellation periods for distance and doorstep selling contracts from seven to 14 days. We also welcome the proposed ban on excessive surcharges for particular payment methods such as credit card surcharges.

However, we feel there are a number of improvements still to be made. We’d like to see improvements to the information provided in doorstep selling contracts. We also think consumers should have the right to cancel flight or hotel bookings, especially when made a long time in advance.

Which? has been concerned that attempts to harmonise consumer protection rules across the EU could be detrimental to the UK consumer. Some concerns still remain in relation to the rules on unfair terms, but the vote on the 1 February showed that MEPs are moving in the right direction.

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