Online retailers across Europe will have to give consumers more precise information on ordered goods and a two-week grace period for returns, if a new law passed by the European Parliament on Thursday is enacted.
The Consumer Rights Directive is part of wider proposals by the EU to improve the conditions for cross-border trade, which have until now been hampered by legislative differences and fragmented consumer protection rules across Europe.
MEPs voted overwhelmingly for the new rules, which will force traders to give consumers two weeks to change their mind after purchasing online and also to provide more detailed information on total price, goods ordered and contact details.
"We wanted to regulate mainly off-premises and distance contracts such as online trading, as this is where the most cross-border sales take place," said European Parliament chief negotiator Andreas Schwab.
"We have reached a well-balanced deal which meets both calls from consumers and business interests".
Other important changes that will be brought in if the Directive gets the approval of the Council of Ministers include banning pre-ticked boxes and hidden charges on e-commerce web sites and the elimination of surcharges for the use of credit cards.
Firms will have two years to comply if and when the rules finally come into force, although retailers have already complained that some of the rules place too large a financial burden on their side, in particular the changes to returns, which will force retailers to pay for the cost of delivery.
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