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back to article EU Commission plots to end rip-off Britain online

The EU will impose a single system of consumer laws across the bloc in a bid to encourage cross-border shopping online, Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said today. She reckons that differences in laws on guarantees, cooling off periods and refunds deter retailers from selling to customers outside their home country, and consumers …

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(Un-)Fair use policy applies

Hopefully this will stretch to include advertised as unlimited must be unlimited.

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How about ads?

will they be addressing such issues as advertised bandwidth and data rates?

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Unhappy

Great

Will the EU be funding all citizens to be able to read all the languages of the other EU countries so they don't fall foul of small print? Will they require every EU-based eshop to publish in all EU languages? Will they be putting a stop to cross-border transaction fees (like the upto 3% that card issuers impose over the top of Visa/Mastercard mediocre exchange rates)?

Admirable intention - doomed to fail in Blighty (and Denmark and Sweden) at least thanks to their collective spurning of the €uro

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Anonymous Coward

Workshy Coffin-dodger asks:

Does this mean I can get my fags and baccy at European prices by internet shopping instead of from dodgy market stalls?

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How about a law...

For providing a correct pound to euro exchange rate and not have instances like thecrookpeople.co.uk who allow you to purchase in sterling but charge you in euros adding nearly 60% to the total without warning.

Unfortunately it looks like play.com are going the same way. I say 'unfortunately' for play.com- they are not the only ones selling CDs online....

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once again

Europe takes the lead in helping this country where our govt fails.

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Guy
Joke

The report is available

For a Fee of 1 Euro from th european parliament or alternatively send £10 + £2.95 postage and packing and allow 28 days for delivery

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VAT

VAT rates vary widely across the EU - which makes it a nightmare selling online to EU customers. Surely, this should be levelled too! What a waste of time and effort! If companies are expected to have consistent pricing from country to country, why not government taxes too?

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@JasonW

Cross-border bank charges should, in theory, already be a thing of the past as long as the transactions are denominated in Euros, so unfortunately not at cash machines. This is part of the commitment to self-regulation by all banks in the European banking area (it's called something else but I can't be arsed checking). My experience with IBAN transfers to the UK in Euros is that this is the case. Of course, the UK banks usually don't have scoobie when it comes to IBAN transfers and talk about SWIFT instead even if both systems are actually one and the same.

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Absolute Truth in Advertising

What the world really needs is a law that demands that any form of advertising (print, broadcast, internet, etc.) be forced to tell the entire, absolute truth with no exaggerated claims, no deception by nonstatement (IOW, if there was a condition involved in a sampling, this condition must be made clear), and no fine print. In America, this would be akin to testifying before a judge. But the idea is that advertisements, being appeals to the public, should be subject to strict regulation to prevent unfair influence. Only the facts should influence the buyer.

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Finally, a sensible suggestion

I'm not saying I like the way the EU is going, but if we are going to have a continental single market, it should all be trading out of the same hymn book, to screw up a phrase.

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Abolish the Brit Tax

I find it crazy that the unreasonable mark up is allowed, bring on the EU to hopefully rectify this madness!

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@JasonW

The EU is already on the case for interchange fees - but don't expect to see any reduction on your credit card bill, as the merchants will probably just pocket the difference, as happened in Australia.

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Flame

Bastardly bloody Eurocrats!

We're Brit'n, so stupid overregulating $&@$@ Eurow**kers go f**k *ff! We're GREAT Brittn so we can hold up our own pants! Go regulate the length of bananas for your own zone!

Wait, that's the kind of comment you normally want for any article concerning the EU? Why not today? Are we being selective, now?

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Stop

Postage

Sorry, but it's not the lack of consistency on guarantees and refunds that prevents people buying from the continent, it's the increased delivery costs and waiting times. I don't see how they will change that or promote cross border shopping if what I gain in lower prices is lost in higher delivery charges.

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Going by previous efforts...

I strongly suspect they'll adopt a 'lowest common denominator' route to this, as they have in the past, and if anything the current UK consumer protection laws are likely to end up weaker.

So far most of the EU legislation seems to have *helped* create 'rip-off Britain' rather than eliminate it; even if that wasn't the intention the reality is that most of it has helped producers rather than customers.

I look forward to being proved wrong. But I wouldn't put money on it.

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Paris Hilton

The rest of the EU is in the EU and they paying 1/3 less for everything

You guys are being ripped-off by your nations merchants (my homeland's merchants) -- you have been paying a 33% tax for living in the UK for decades -- and you are complaining about EU officials and the EU pushing prices up?

The rest of the EU is in the EU -- and -- they paying 1/3 less for almost everything.

Paris because even Paris could see that, while EU bureaucracy messes up many things, it isn't responsible for the outrageous prices in the UK.

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Anonymous Coward

Been there ...

read the book, wore the t-shirt, etc.

Rip-off Britain is so well established, nothing will unseat it.

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It's all very well having these laws

But you also need a way to enforce them when the monetary loss is often very small.

For example, if you buy online, you are supposed to be able to send the goods back immediately if you don't like them - and the seller should pay the postage. However, I don't know any sellers who do this. You can't force them to because the sum involved is so small that any recovery action is pointlessly expensive in comparison. So everyone gets away with breaking the law.

A regulator would need a vast enforcement team to sort this out, so regulation's not a solution either, unless backed by hugely punitive fines to act as a deterrent.

So basically, if the sums involved are small, you'll probably continue to be regularly ripped off, whatever the law says.

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Paris Hilton

@Andrew Moore - Exchange rates...

"For providing a correct pound to euro exchange rate and not have instances like thecrookpeople.co.uk who allow you to purchase in sterling but charge you in euros adding nearly 60% to the total without warning"

All exchange rates fluctuate constantly on the world currency markets - the "correct" rate isn't fixed anywhere.

Also, contrary to popular belief/merchant knocking, it's not the merchant that conducts the exchange, it's the cardholder's card issuer - if your account is in sterling, your bank will conduct the transaction in sterling - if your account is in euros, your bank will have to convert the transaction to euros in order to debit your account, so if someone is being charged exorbitant exchange rates, they should change banks. Typically, the banks charge a 3% spread on the spot rate at the time of conversion.

e.g. If the spot rate is £1 = €1.29 then the bank's £ purchase rate would be €1.30935 and the selling rate would be €1.27094 (based on 3% spread). Today's closing spot rate is £1 = €1.2656 so a £100 purchase should be converted to €101.50. If your bank is charging you more than that, I'd change banks.

Paris, because she probably doesn't understand how the banking system works either.

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RW
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@ Charles re Absolute Truth

Logical consequence: advertising would not contain any subjective description like beautiful, sexy, stylish, tasty, delicious, easy to assemble, and so on.

One might argue that if this were the case, then suggestive images would also fall under the ban. Example: gentlemen's underclothing, the packages of which feature ripped, hairless bods that spend way too much time in the gym, with the subliminal subtext "if you wear these, you'll look like this too."

Which is not an objective conclusion.

Given that marketers are nothing but a bunch of professional, pathological liars, anything that puts a stick in their spokes is fine by me.

PS: I forgot to include amongst the characteristics of gentlemen's underclothing packages the crotch padding and/or hidden straps and thongs that exaggerate and accentuate the reproductive tackle. That too would go.

Ha ha. Take that, vile marketers!

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Oops!

That should, of course, have been €1.284584 - not £101.50

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@Steve Renouf

Wrong in this instance. There would be no problem if there was a straight sterling to euro exchange (plus or minus a few points). But in the instances I referenced the traders have a differing euro price versus sterling price (not set by the credit card systems)

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The Daily Mail are going to implode

EU meddling law makers in 'yet more red tape' shocker!

Rip-off Britain to benefit from cheaper prices!

"Wait, what?"

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@Andrew Moore

Ah well, if the traders are actually selling the goods in Euros, you know what they're charging for the goods in Euros before you start, so how can they be screwing you on exchange - when they are selling in Euros and you are buying in Euros, there is no exchange...

Unless, of course, they're not actually selling in Euros but merely giving an indication of what the exchange spot-rate "might" be when the bank does the exchange. Or , it could be that they calculated the Euro price (if they are actually selling in Euros) when they actually bought the goods based on what they paid for them at the time and the then exchange rate!?!

...and then there's the question of what currency they bought the goods in -

There are lots of factors involved in the pricing of goods - made even more complex when fluctuating exchange rates are involved in the calculations.

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Anonymous Coward

If we were using the Euro, there would not be an exchange rate..

The biggest single cause of rip-off Britain is that we are still using Sterling.

I have an odd feeling that Big Business is behind the UK 'Anti-Euro' lobby, cos they like things this way...

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Stop

It won't happen.

Like everytime unification has been tried before, this will be blocked by the UK government. It will require unified VAT rates and duty scrapped altogether.

Something this government has vetoed in the past.

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Anonymous Coward

hurry up

About time because it used to be cheaper to buy the item from USA (or anywhere abroad) pay ridiculous shipping (and handling fees) PLUS customs if you got stung (50/50 chance) ..... but now apparently they catch ALL items over £18 and charge you about £20, on top of your £20 postage. Thanks for that.

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Unhappy

re Rip-off Britain is so well established, nothing will unseat it.

Yes you are quite correct AC. higher prices for the little englanders means more VAT for your government to spend unwisely.

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It's not the EU

It's the way the UK govt implements the EU directives which is utter bollocks. Some new regulation comes in whereby a farmer has to perform some task every three or four months on each and every piece of livestock. In most of the EU he'll receive a subsidy allowing him to hire an extra guy for the job but not in blighty. That's why so many small farmers end their careers by gobbling a shotgun blast. Fucking civil servant wankers.

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With current EURGBP exchange rate...

.. stuff looks pretty cheap in the UK right now.

Having lived in Germany for the last 7 seven years, I have seen the previously high UK prices eroded to the point where it is checper for me to buy stuff in the UK. Petrol is now about the same price (it used to be about 40% cheaper).

I really hope the EU don't bring German consumer protection to the UK - essentially, there isn't any consumer protection in Germany. Companies do what they like and treat customers like shit.

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consumer globalisation

At what point will we consumer be truly in a free market where companies like wow cd can sell music and videos directly to us from the far east with out the cartel of music companies stopping them.

Also when companies like Tesco import PS3s as as grey imports, they get busted by their trade bodies.

Make no mistake, free trade in europe does not exist, consumers have little choice, and currently the UK is place you get fleeced the most in europe.

Cap VAT, bring in europe wide consumer protection and we might start heading the right way.

I am all for Europe as a concept and spend alot of time working in mainland Europe, but its our europe, not the eurocrats or big business.

Its time we had a little more say and little more focus (i.e. consultation).

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Re: It's not the EU

Haven't heard much of farmers eating lead on the news.

Nothing, in fact.

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Dan
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Paris Hilton

Prices aren't the problem in the UK now

Given the current exchange rate between pounds and euros (many things now cost cheaper in the UK than on mainland Europe), the problem is now the average salary in the UK.

I suppose this 'help' that some online shops offer with exchange rates is them trying to claw back some money lost due to the pound falling.

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Ian

People bitch about the EU...

...but once again it's taken the EU to do what our government should've done over a decade ago.

If only the Brits who bitch about Europe realised that Europe is actually better than our own government that we voted in!

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