New EU protections for buyers shopping from sellers overseas

The European Commission has recently published details regarding new regulations it wants to see put into place to grease the wheels of ecommerce.

You can read more here, but in basic terms the European Commission doesn’t think that there is enough cross border trade with in the EU, pointing out that 37% of sellers trade within their own borders but only 12% will sell to someone in another country. It’s notable that, once again like VATMOSS, these measure apply to digital content.

From the various measures in the release, two jumped out to me, so I quote them verbatim:

“Consumers will benefit from a higher level of consumer protection, a wider choice of products at more competitive prices:

– Reversal of the burden of proof:For instance, if an Italian consumer discovers today that a product he/she purchased online more than 6 months ago is defective and asks the seller to repair or replace it, he/she may be asked to prove that this defect existed at the time of delivery. Under the proposed new rules, throughout the two-year guarantee period, the consumer will be able to ask for a remedy without having to prove that the defect existed at the time of delivery.

– Clear and specific rights for digital content: For instance, a consumer who downloads a game which is then not working properly may currently receive as compensation only a discount on downloading other games in the future. With the proposed directive, consumers will be able to request such problems to be fixed and, if this is not feasible or not done properly, to obtain a price reduction or terminate the contract and be fully reimbursed.”

The two measures combine something particularly interesting because it means that any buyer can claim within two years of purchase that something isn’t working or as described and expect a full refund.