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EU mulls new laws to boost online shopping

09
Feb '07
With only 6 percent of EU citizens shopping online for products in other member states due to a lack of trust, the European Commission is to review and possibly fully harmonise consumer-related laws in a bid to boost sales.

The revision announced on Thursday (8 February) by consumer protection commissioner Meglena Kuneva will involve eight current EU laws dealing with issues such as product guarantees, return policy or package travel traded via the internet.

"At the moment, consumers are not getting a fair deal online," said the commissioner, asking "can we afford the 27 mini-online markets in Europe, denying consumers a choice, opportunity and competitive prices."

The EU executive argues that the current rules dealing with online shopping are too out of date while the differing standards in member states - based on minimum harmonisation - lead to low confidence among consumers towards shopping across borders.

Of all the Europeans that had internet access at home between March 2005 and 2006, around 44 percent bought something online and only 12 percent bought something from a company in another EU country.

The commission's survey also found that 56 percent of respondents thought businesses abroad would be less likely to follow the consumer-related guarantees, especially in terms of dealing with possible complaints, returns and price reductions.

The key problems Europeans encounter when shopping online concern delivery (46% of complaints), defect goods or the wrong products (25%) or the web trader withdrawing more money than agreed (8%).


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