The changes introduced by Law 3/2014 are aimed at implementing the Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, and reinforce the protection given to consumers, especially in distance contracts and ‘off-premises' contracts. Law 3/2014 contains the following new features:
- The concept of consumer and user is enlarged to encompass natural persons acting for purposes which are outside their trade, business, craft or profession and legal persons and entities without legal personality acting as non-profit organisations outside their business activity.
- Consumers and users’ rights for pre-contractual information are reinforced. New information such as the existence of a legal guarantee of conformity for goods, the existence and the conditions of after-sales services and, for digital content, its functionality (including applicable technical protection measures) and interoperability with hardware and software must be provided before signing the contract.
- Also, the express consent of the consumer or user is needed before proceeding to any extra payment in addition to the remuneration agreed upon for the trader’s main contractual obligation and consumers or users cannot be billed for the use of certain means of payment, fees that exceed the cost borne by the trader for the use of such means.
- There is a new definition of distance contract that covers all cases where contracts are concluded between the trader and the consumer and user in the context of an organised system for selling or providing services remotely (including by post, Internet, telephone or fax)
- In distance contracts, the information requirements are adapted to take into account the technical constraints of certain media, such as restrictions on the number of characters in certain mobile telephone screens or time in television advertisings. In such cases, the trader must comply with a minimum set of information requirements and refer the consumer and user to another source of information, for example by providing a toll-free number or a link to a web page of the trader where the relevant information is directly available and easily accessible.
- The withdrawal period for distance and off-premises contracts is extended up to fourteen calendar days. If the consumer and user are not informed about this right, this will lead to a withdrawal period of twelve months after the expiry date of the initial period. Law 3/2014 contains detailed provisions on the exercise of the right of withdrawal.
- For contracts concluded by telephone, the trader shall, at the beginning of the conversation with the consumer, disclose his identity and, where applicable, the identity of the person on whose behalf he makes that call, and the commercial purpose of the call. Phone calls must be made between 9 am and 21 pm, excluding holidays and weekends and the use of communication techniques consisting of an automated calling system without human intervention or fax requires the prior consent of the consumer and user (that shall, in any case, have the right to object to receive unwanted commercial offers, by phone, fax or other equivalent means of communication). In addition, where a distance contract is to be concluded by telephone, the trader has to confirm the offer to the consumer in writing, and unless the consumer opposes, on a durable medium. The consumer and user are bound only once they have signed the offer or have sent their written consent on paper or by email, fax or text message.