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New law protects online shoppers

Friday, June 13 13:49:49

The Consumer Rights Directive will come into effect in Ireland from tomorrow to give better protection for those shopping online.

The EU Directive, which is implemented in Ireland by way of the European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013, will, for instance, mean that people hiring a car or buying insurance online must explicitly opt in by selecting the appropriate box rather than having to opt out.

Traders will not be permitted to charge card fees that exceed the actual cost of processing a debit or credit card payment.

Traders will be obliged to disclose the total cost of a good or service, including any extra fees, before the consumer places an order. Online shoppers will not have to pay charges or additional costs if they were not properly informed about these in advance.

The Directive provides for an extension of the "cooling-off" period. Under existing legislation, consumers had at least seven days from the date on which they received an online order to cancel the contract and receive a refund without having to give a reason. The new legislation extends this period to 14 days.

Making the announcement, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said 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 trading poses particular challenges, and it is important that our laws evolve quickly to provide proper protections for consumers in these arenas," he added.

"Irish consumers spend more than E4 billion online every year, and this figure is projected to grow rapidly in the coming decade. The laws coming into effect today will make a major difference to the protections available to those consumers. Pre-ticked boxes will be banned, meaning that consumers will only purchase the goods and services that they have chosen. Fees imposed for making payments will not exceed the cost to the retailer of processing those payments. Cancellation and refund rights will be vastly improved. Overall, there will be much greater transparency and fairness in online purchases as a result of these laws".