The Regulation on Distance Agreements was replaced by the Distance Agreements Regulation (the "new Regulation") on November 27, 2014, which will enter into force February 27, 2015. The New Regulation will increase the level of consumer protection and impose more obligations on sellers and service providers that enter into distance sales agreements with consumers through websites, email, fax, phone or similar means.
What the Regulation says
- Pre-sale information
Under the new Regulation, sellers and service providers must provide additional information to consumers than currently required. Prior to concluding a distance sales agreement, a seller or service provider must indicate: (i) the arrangement for payment, delivery, performance, the time the seller will deliver the goods or the service provider will perform the service, and the seller's or service provider’s complaint handling policy; (ii) the functionality of digital content, including technical protective measures; and (iii) any interoperability of digital content with hardware and software of which the seller or service provider is aware or could be reasonably expected to be aware.
Additionally, the seller or service provider must also ensure that the consumer, when placing an order, explicitly acknowledges that the order implies an obligation to pay. Otherwise, the consumer will not be bound by the order.
- Cancellation right
With the new Regulation, the exercise of the cancellation right is both detailed and simplified to increase consumer protection. The main changes are:
- To comply with Consumer Protection Law (No. 6502), the new Regulation gives the consumer 14 days to cancel a distance sales agreement without stating a reason or paying a penalty.
- To cancel a transaction, the consumer can either use the cancellation form in the annex of the new Regulation or make an unequivocal statement.
- The seller or service provider must reimburse all payments received from the consumer, including any of the delivery costs, without undue delay and no later than 14 days after receipt of notice to cancel the distance sales agreement.
- Unless the seller has offered to collect the goods itself, the consumer must return the goods or turn them over to the seller or to the seller's authorized representative without undue delay and no later than 10 days after giving notice of the decision to cancel the distance sales agreement.
- Consumers cannot exercise the cancellation right for: (i) sealed goods, which are not suitable for return due to health protection or hygiene reasons and were unsealed after delivery, or (ii) goods that are, after delivery, according to their nature, inseparably mixed with other items.
What companies should do
Companies that provide goods or services to consumers through distance sales agreements should take the necessary steps to bring their activities into compliance with the new Regulation by February 27.