Open Plus' Lobbying Pays Off as EU 'Ditches Directive'
Open Plus is offering congratulations to campaign partners IMRG and Retail Week for their part in successful lobbying to drop controversial new retail rules in Europe
Posted by Killian McAleese, 9th June 2011
We were delighted this week to read that months of slog have finally paid off as the EU announced that it was dropping controversial changes to the Consumer Rights Directive which were anticipated to be severely detrimental to online retail throughout Europe.
In March, the European Parliament voted in favour of a series of changes to the Directive which would see online retailers' activities curtailed by a move which Open Plus CEO Andrew Sykes described as “enshrining in law implementation details that serve to restrict retailers innovation in the field of customer experience management”
In the weeks ahead of the EU vote, retail consultancy Open Plus, Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) and other industry bodies wrote to MEPs urging them to vote against the amendments to the Directive. Although this lobbying gained significant press coverage, the campaign did not prevent the amended Directive from passing through the parliament successfully.
'Ditch the Directive'
However, it was in the wake of the vote that the retail community mobilised in earnest. Of particular note was the the involvement of prominent industry weekly Retail Week.
The magazine's 'Ditch the Directive' campaign brought the ramifications of the amended Directive home to a wider industry audience and the campaign was significantly stepped up in the UK, with partners across Europe also applying pressure to the European Parliament and their home governments.
It was calculated that the proposed and approved amendments would add £10 billion in delivery charges to retailer costs across the EU, 4% of the total European consumer spend.
On Wednesday the good news was broken by Retail Week's Gemma Goldfingle, as she announced that the EU “abandoned plans for force[ing] retailers to offer free returns from anywhere in Europe and deliver to all EU countries.”
The above are but two of the many controversial points among the amendments. Article 22a, for example, implies that retailers will be forced to enter any contract with a consumer at the consumers' discretion, however logistically difficult it was to deliver goods and services to their location.
Other controversial issues include a decrease from thirty to fourteen days the time within which refunds should be paid and an increase in the 'cooling off period' from seven to fourteen days, when consumers have the right to opt out of contracts.
Discussions continue at European Council level before the Directive is finally approved in July, but this latest development has been welcomed throughout the online retail community.
Our Retail Consultancy and Your Business 31st May 2011
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