Starting on 13 June, amendments to the Italian Consumer Code (Legislative Decree 206/2005) introduced by Legislative Decree 21/2014 will come into force, implementing Directive 2011/83/EU. The changes mainly concern consumer rights and will have an impact on, inter alia, contracts concluded via the Internet in the context of online sales activities. As a consequence, websites engaging in e-commerce must adapt to the new rules, to avoid penalties.
The most significant changes are without a doubt those to the consumers’ right of withdrawal, which is being expanded: the consumer will have 14 days to cancel the contract (through any statement or by using the form provided by the Consumer Code), and a further 14 days to return the goods and get refund. At the same time, the seller shall return the payment – including any standard delivery charges – within 14 days of receiving notice of the consumer’s intention to cancel the contract, but it will have the right to withhold the reimbursement until it has received the goods or documentary evidence of their shipping by the buyer. The consumer will have to bear the cost of returning the goods, but even this shall not be paid by the consumer if the seller failed to warn that such expenses are to be borne by them.
If the seller does not provide the consumer with the information on the right of withdrawal, the withdrawal period ends 12 months after the end of the initial 14 days. However, the seller can “fix” this, by providing the consumer with the information on the withdrawal within 12 months. In this case, the withdrawal period ends 14 days after the day on which the consumer receives the information.
The new rules also put more informative obligations on the seller. Firstly, the seller must ensure that, when placing the order, the consumer explicitly acknowledges that the order implies an obligation to pay. Consequently, if the order entails clicking on a button, this shall display, in an easily readable format, the words “order with obligation to pay” or a corresponding formulation. If the seller fails to comply with this obligation, the consumer is not bound by the contract or order. Secondly, the seller must indicate, at the latest at the beginning of the ordering process, whether any delivery restrictions apply and which means of payment are accepted. Finally, the seller must provide the consumer with confirmation of the contract on a durable medium, within a reasonable time after the conclusion of the contract and at the latest at the time of delivery of the goods or before the execution of the service begins.
Among the most important rules to remember is the responsibility for risk: the risk of loss of or damage to the goods shall pass to the consumer when they, or a third party indicated by the consumer and other than the carrier, have acquired the physical possession of the goods, unless the carrier has been chosen by the same consumer.