Thursday, September 06 10:44:58
The Government this morning began the process of stopping businesses from charging excessive fees to consumers for the likes of flight bookings, entertainment, concerts etc and to stop the practice of "pre-ticked boxes".
While the Consumer Rights Directive on excessive payment charges and pre-ticked payment boxes does not have to be adopted by EU Member States until December 2013, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton said that early implementation of these provisions will be in the interest of Irish consumers.
He said he aims to have legislation in place in a matter of months after the completion of the consultation period on 12th October next.
Article 19 of the Directive seeks to tackle excessive payment charges by prohibiting businesses from charging consumers fees that exceed the cost to the business of the payment method used in the transaction. Though payment and payment-related fees are not widespread in Ireland, they are common in a number of sectors, mainly passenger travel, package holidays, and tickets for entertainment and other events.
Article 22 of the Directive seeks to tackle hidden charges to consumers by requiring traders to seek the consumer's express consent to any payment additional to that agreed for the goods or services that form the main part of the bargain between the two parties. It also bans traders from inferring the consumer's consent by means of opt-out provisions, the most common of which are the pre-ticked boxes on some websites that commit the consumer to paying for additional goods or services unless he or she unticks the boxes in question.
"Transactions involving a consumer on the one hand and a business on the other are inherently unbalanced, and government has an obligation to regulate where the consumer needs protection. The rapid growth of online transactions poses particular challenges in this regard," the Minister said.
"These two measures are aimed at addressing two particular issues which are the source of many complaints from consumers - payment surcharges, and pre-ticked boxes. I am determined to do everything possible to avoid excessive charges, to ensure the greatest possible level of transparency in online transactions, so that customers will know at the start of a transaction what the complete price will be. I urge all interested parties to get involved in this consultation which I am determined will result in a better deal for consumers".