As you may be aware, the Consumer Rights Directive was agreed by the European Union in October of last year. In a nutshell, the directive was devised to provide added security for consumers making purchases in Europe, particularly when doing so online. During its infancy a number of proposals within the directive were met with anger and concern, not least the obligation for traders to cover the cost of returns if exceeding €40.
However, for our industry, one of the greatest concerns is the suggestion that the obligatory ‘cooling off period’ be extended from seven to 14 days when the directive is implemented in 2013. This would apply to transactions carried out online and during the visit of a trader to a home and means that an order can be cancelled, the goods returned and money be refunded at any point during the 14 days following a purchase.
Is it just me or does our industry not have enough to contend with right now without having to wait an extra seven days after actually making a sale before we can commence work for fear of the customer changing their mind? Don’t get me wrong, consumer rights are essential, particularly in an industry that is – in the main incorrectly – perceived by many as full of rogue or cowboy traders, but seven days have always been sufficient and if a consumer is unsure of a purchase they will generally know fairly early on.
So, why am I referring now to a proposal that has been in the pipeline since October 2011? Well, at a time where the government is trying and boost the UK’s economy through construction by cutting through red tape, I would argue that this is one area where the scissors would be very welcome. Additionally, the consultation on the directive is currently open via the Department for Business Innovation and Skills website but it is due to close on 1st November, so if you want to have your say, now is the time to do it.
Go to www.bis.gov.uk/Consultations/consultation-implementation-consumer-rights-directive and download the document and response form for yourself. Let’s give our industry the chance it deserves.
Managing Director, Tradelink