Wednesday 24 August 2011

Uk shoppers most likely to complain in Europe.

KelKoo Survey.
Uk shoppers most likely to complain in Europe.

No real surprise there. Gobby lot, UK customers always used to be very keen to quote rights that didn't exist.

In fact its a long, long time since I've seen anyone in a store in the UK having a flair up argument with the management. Most UK firms go far beyond what is required in law to keep customers happy.
M&S famously didn't even require a receipt to exchange goods or get a full refund and had a no time limit return and exchange policy that it cut to a measly 90 days back in 2005.. Most stores have a 28 day policy. And that is pretty generous too because in UK law there is no time limit. You aren't entitled to return any retail item at all from the second you purchase it unless its not fit for purpose.

The article is the usual headline grabbing nonsense. {But the headline is the hook, right? That's why I used it too.}
96% of Britons in this certain situation would complain. As opposed to 95% of Germans and 91% of Italians etc.
But the article does make mention of the new EU Consumer Rights Directive.
This a directive standardising internet sales within the EU. This is a law coming into force within two years and was originally one of the daftest pieces of Euro legislation to be put before the parliament.

-items over €40, then the retailer would be responsible for paying the return postage costs if customer changes mind.

- Anyone selling to one European country must sell to all European countries.
- The retailer is responsible for the condition of items until the customer receives.
- Customer has 14 days FROM RECEIPT to change mind.

All of those were very stupid stipulations. At present plenty of UK small business refuse to post to Italy. That is because Italy is a nightmare for delivering goods and has a the slowest customs clearing on earth. Its often not worth the bother.
The €40 refund is just bizzare. Postage is sold by weight, not by price. For instance sending a €40, 3kg drill to France costs €30.00. If the retailer had to pay that return cost they wouldn't ship. {It might seem an odd thing but BQ industries had just such a product that mostly went to France and Ireland. The drill was discounted from €150} And as for the 14 days from receipt, who would know? Items don't have a delivery date unless they are couriered.

These rules were clearly made with big shippers in mind and no conception of the thousands and thousands of independent and small traders selling online.
The seller being responsible for the goods intransit is a bit odd as the deliverer is always responsible. If Royal mail smash up your parcel, the person sending the item makes the claim for loss or damage.

However, having been amended by MEPs its actually turned out pretty well. Some of the better ideas..

  • Increased price transparency – this means the online retailer will now have to tell you about all costs, for instance a UK online store shipping goods from Singapore will have to tell you about customs duties before you finalise your payment.
  • Banning pre-ticked boxes on websites – no more imposed insurance fees when booking a ticket an online, no more imposed newsletters, no more imposed extra warranty terms when buying a camera online, etc
  • 14 Days to change your mind on a purchase, goods or services
  • Better refund rights- retailers will refund consumers in full for the product within 14 days of the withdrawal. This includes the costs of delivery. In general, the trader will bear the risk for any damage to goods during transportation, until the consumer takes possession of the goods.
  • Eliminating surcharges for the use of credit cards and hotlines - no more extra charge if you book your flight ticket online paying with a Visa for instance
Well, the 14 days to change mind is ok, as long as the customer pays the postage back. Otherwise they would have more rights than a UK consumer has in the high street. No one refunds your petrol and parking for taking something back.

A mix, but much, much better than the original.


James Higham said...

The solution is probably not to post anything at all. Send an e-card.

alan said...

Banning pre-ticked box's is a bit daft. Site operators can just invert the question so you have to click the check box to remove. (Unless the actual legalese talks about default addon products, rather than tick box's). And its also stupid, or rather assumes the punter is extremely stupid.

The new EU list looks more like a rant at buying plane tickets online, not buying books online.

It will be interesting to see how this affects online tickets, of all types. You could cause some serious issues if you booked a big batch of tickets and cancelled them 10min before the flight/gig etc.

CityUnslicker said...

alan, given the travel that Euro MEP's do on ryaniair etc I expect that comment is spot on in terms of the issues front of mind to the drafters....

Alex said...

I have a really wacky, off the wall idea. Why not let businesses compete freely in the damn marketplace rather than tell them how to sell stuff. Good ones will succeed, bad ones will fail. When did we forget this useful system?
These new rules will add cost to every business, and, like all regulation, favour big businesses over small.
And specifically, banning surcharges for credit cards is dumb, they cost the retailer more. So retailers won't allow credit card payments. So we will have to use a charge card. Which means checking the bank balance before every purchase, and paying 4-6 weeks earlier. Thanks for reducing my choices.
Still, if you are so dumb you can't work out how to un-tick a little box, you are now safe.
Sorry, a little rant-y, but this stuff makes me cross.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

"banning surcharges for credit cards is dumb, they cost the retailer more. So retailers won't allow credit card payments"

Don't be so dim. The additional cost will be factored in so everyone pays it. The cost of handling a credit card is less than the hassle of physical cash. Additional payments for credit card transactions were just another way for scumbags in the travel industry such as "F*** Off Airways" to gouge a bit more money while advertising a dishonestly low ticket price.

Businesses do compete freely. The law simply creates a level playing field and gives us redress.

Timbo614 said...

How is this going to gel with Cameron's "NO more red tape for small businesses"? Hmmm.

We were dreaming then... No more unless imposed by our EU overlords :(

Bill Quango MP said...

JH: I dislike e-cards and have been known to delete them unopened.

Alan:It does look like the legislators had "Fun" O'Air in mind. But only a very dim IT and sales dept won't be able to devise new tricks that conform.
The refund bit is a worry. However there is normally a clause in there that says you can cancel up to 14 days, but not within 'x' hours.
Whether hotel bookings/theater etc will still be allowed a sliding cancellation fee is not clear.

CU: I long to be Guillaume La Quango MEP of Strasbourg.

Alex: That was my initial sentiment. The original was almost designed to stifle online business in the EU. I believe that the rest of EU look at the mega online transaction of the UK and wonder how to compete. They assume its regulation. But that isn't really it.

Look at french ebay. Nothing on there. Once again the 'investment' of Lord Palmerston and subsequent ministers in making the world speak English has paid off.

As for cards, Weetabix is correct. All of the nonsense about no fees, free returns etc is just going to put up the original prices for everyone.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it grossly unfairly favours larger companies, which is probably the opposite of the drafters intentions.

Timbo614: No more UK only red tape legislation.

Timbo614 said...

I must learn to interpret and insert appropriate punctuation in politispeak:

No more UK; only red tape legislation.

Timbo614 said...

Talking of retail and punctuation, I interviewed a prospective young employee today.

He can spell, write, do sums in his head, is quite articulate and is teaching himself computer programming.

He has decided against the cost of the loans for the college/uni option for computer courses (Probably because he can do sums in his head!)

However, interestingly he has plumped for taking the same course at the Open University. The cost he told me is £6000 over 4? years rather than £30,000+. Said he could save/earn that just flipping burgers (which he was) and doing OU gives you the time allocation choice to do it.

Given the quality of the "usual suspects" that turn up for our job offers, I gave him the job on a simple like the attitude basis.
Not all youngsters it seems are lost causes or rioters, I will report back...

Bill Quango MP said...

I interviewed a good prospect one too.

"Any difficulties with numbers"
"I sometimes put an R in seven"
"That's more spelling..lets not worry about that too much."