Shopping Online?

online presentHow many times have you entered into a contract over the telephone or via the internet?  Obviously, some never have, but the majority of us have at some point.

According to the figures given by the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, in Spain, in 2012 alone, more than 350.000 claims to the Consumer’s Associations and 75.000 claims to the Consumer’s Arbitration Tribunals were instigated in matters effecting telecommunications, energy, water and insurance.

I know that a few months ago I wrote an article regarding Consumer’s Rights, but due to the changes in the Law I feel the need to let you in on what the latest changes are.  Spain has finally taken steps to incorporate the European Directive on Consumer Rights in their legislation in an attempt to protect Consumers, in particular in cross boarder transactions.

Main Points of Changes to the law:

The period in which to desist with a commercial contract (the cooling off period) is extended from 7 natural days to 14, and the Consumer will be able to return the product for any reason.  If the company does not inform the client of this cooling off period it is automatically extended to 12 months. A standardized European form for desisting shall be incorporated into the pre-contract information giving the Consumer the option to use it. The Consumer will always have to be informed as to the final amount BEFORE the transaction is concluded, this will avoid any “hidden “charges, and it offers greater protection of those making transactions over the telephone or internet.

As part of the pre-contractual information, the law states that this must be clear and comprehensible, especially when these contracts are agreed off company premises. In these cases the company is obliged to give the consumer a free telephone number (thus cutting down on 902 numbers) or a web page where they can obtain all the necessary information, in a simple format.

The Law also regulated surcharges on preference of method of payment, making it illegal, for example to add a surcharge for paying via credit or debit card, for example.

This will also combat certain cases, like those of airline tickets, where there is a price offered, and then with every step you take the price increases.

In the case of telesales, the person representing the company must identify themselves, the company and the nature of the call right from the start of the conversation.  The contract will only be finalised once the Consumer has signed the offer or sent his written consent by letter, fax, email or text.  This is to guarantee that the Comsumer is completely aware of the contract he is entering into, something that is near impossible in one simple telephone conversation.

Finally Spam telephone calls, these cannot be made at weekends, at all, and on working days never after 9pm or before 9 am.