The Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) has written to protest to the European Parliament ahead of a vote on a new piece of legislation that intends to 'harmonise' cross-border e-taliing and mail order in favour of the consumer.
If passed, the new European legislation will mean that any returned goods must be refunded within 14 days Europe-wide, or within seven days if both retailer and customer are in the same country. The retailer will be responsible for covering shipping costs.
There is also suggestion that the refund might have to be made before the returned goods are received, although this opens up huge possibilities for fraud.
The proposed bill also seems to indicate that pan-European websites will be required to be translate into the all of the languages of the EU.
The vote is due to take place on March 23rd following approval of the bill by the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee (IMCO) on February 1st.
The aim behind the legislation is to simplify the legal priorities where the retailer is in one country – and governed by the laws of that country, but eh consumer is in a second, with different laws.
The recommendations also hope to cover other issues of interest, including pre-contractual information, delivery, repairs, replacements and guarantees, new technologies, rules on information provided to consumers, delivery deadlines and the right to withdraw from a contract in distance and off-premises sales.
While doubtlessly giving consumers considerable rights of equal treatment across the EU, if the legislation is passed as is, then we will see a fall back in the number of small to medium-sized online retailers, less take-up for selling online, and the move into domination of the few large-scale operations that already exist.