Consumer Rights Directive revisions 'a relief to small UK internet retailers'
Tuesday, June 28 2011 by Kate Billinghurst
British ecommerce businesses will no longer be required to extend their activities across the whole of the European Union single market, under the revised Consumer Rights Directive.
The new legislation is intended to modernise consumer rights laws across the EU and had originally included requirements for all web-based traders to sell their products in every member state.
This requirement has since been removed, which has been welcomed by a number of business owners and the Forum for Private Business (FPB) lobby group.
There had been concern that requiring businesses to open up their ecommerce activities across Europe would have proved a logistical, technical and legal nightmare.
The FPB anticipated widespread problems with payment processing and fraud, while the new law may also have required significant changes to editable websites and website promotions to ensure compliance with local regulations in other countries.
Another controversial aspect of the directive, requiring businesses to pay the postage and packaging on goods worth more than £35 that have been returned by consumers, has also been removed.
In the context of the EU, the FPB argued that such a stipulation could financially cripple smaller businesses, who may find themselves paying through the nose to send back items to distant member states.
Forum spokesman Phil McCabe said: "The legislators saw sense and we believe that the directive is now largely unproblematic for ecommerce traders. However, it does extend the period within which consumers can return goods, without giving any reason, to 14 days - we think this is unnecessary and open to abuse."
While the FPB has successfully lobbied for changes to this directive, another lobby group is hoping to have similar success with its recommendations for changes to EU single market laws.
The Federation of Small Businesses wants to see new laws introduced that would enable small businesses recourse to a single set of contract laws when making agreements in other member states.
This would rid the system of the current complexities, which require small firms to ensure they are compliant with different levels of bureaucracy and legal requirements in other countries.
The federation hopes this will save smaller firms money in the long-term - which perhaps could be used to invest in other aspects of their business to drive expansion, such as managed pay per click and online marketing campaigns targeted across borders.
Living Streams "Improving clients' profitability through better use of the internet".