Protection of consumer rights still varies greatly between EU countries. Only 35% of Europeans are confident buying online from sellers in other EU countries and seven out of ten consumers do not know what do to when they receive products that they did not order.
These are among the results of the 2013 Consumer Conditions Scoreboard published on 23 July by the European Commission. The results show that a fresh impetus is needed to ensure that consumers can buy with equal confidence and ease across the EU, whether online or offline. One key finding is the decrease in consumer trust matched by an increase in the use of redress.
Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for Consumer Policy welcomed the Scoreboard and said “There has been progress notably in the spread of e-commerce but improvements are needed in other areas. The Scoreboard shows us where we should focus our efforts. It is our window on the market. Its outcome will be reflected in my future actions such as setting up the online-dispute resolution platform or better enforcing rules against unfair commercial practices.”
In regards to the e-commerce sector, the two main points made by the Commission are:
- The share of consumers engaging in domestic e-commerce grew from 38% to 41% compared to an increase from 9.6% to 11% for cross-border purchases. Consumers, however, remain far less confident about buying online from sellers in other EU countries as opposed to domestically (35% versus 59%). Possible reasons include the impossibility of completing a purchase, e.g. because there is no delivery to the consumer’s country or because foreign payment cards are not accepted by the online retailer. This is an important barrier to cross-border online shopping.
- The Commission has been working to unleash the potential of e-commerce by creating a favourable consumer environment. The new legislation on Online Dispute Resolution will allow consumers shopping domestically and in other EU countries to resolve their disputes with traders more quickly and more cheaply, without going to court. The Consumer Rights Directive, which will apply in all Member States by June 2014, harmonises, among others, provisions relating to return policies in distance sales. The Commission is working with stakeholders to improve the quality of online comparison tools and facilitate cross-border comparisons to help consumers pick the best deals.
Please find a full copy of the report here.