New rules to better protect consumers whether they buy a product over the internet, in a local store or download music or games

New rules to better protect consumers whether they buy a product over the internet, in a local store or download music or games were approved by the European Parliament.

Under the first EU-wide “digital content” rules, people who buy or download music, apps, games or use cloud services or social media platforms will be better protected if a trader fails to supply the content or service or provides a defective one. These consumer protection rights will apply in an equal manner to consumers who provide data in exchange for such content or service and to “paying” consumers alike.

The text lays down that, if it is not possible to fix defective digital content or service in a reasonable amount of time, the consumer is entitled to a price reduction or a full reimbursement within 14 days. If a defect appears within one year of the date of supply, it is presumed that it existed already, without the consumer needing to prove it (reversal of the burden of proof). For continuous supplies, the burden of proof remains with the trader throughout the contract.

The guarantee period for one-off supplies cannot be shorter than two years. For continuous supplies, it should apply throughout the duration of the contract.

 

... and when buying a product on- or offline

 

The directive on the sales of goods applies to both online and offline (face-to-face) sales, e.g., whether a consumer buys a household appliance, a toy or a computer via the internet or over the counter in a local store.

The trader will be liable if a defect appears within two years from the time the consumer received the product. The reversed burden of proof would be of one year in the consumers’ favour. 

Goods with digital elements (e.g. “smart” fridges, smartphones and TVs or connected watches) are also covered by this directive. Consumers buying these products will be entitled to receive the necessary updates during “a period of time the consumer may reasonably expect”, based on the type and purpose of the goods and digital elements.