Friday, February 17, 2023

Consumer Protection Changes

Within the EU, there has been a greater push for consumer protection, especially between member countries whose own consumer protection laws may differ.  

Here's a short, English-language video from the European Commission that talks about five important consumer rights.  However, the video is at least nine years old.

©European Commission

On 6 January 2023, a new amendment to the Consumer Protection Act and the Civil Code came into effect.  The Czech law was updated to be in synch with EU laws.

  • Exercising the right to withdraw from a contract will be more precise.
  • Unless the consumer and the business mutually agree to different terms, the goods must be delivered to the consumer no later than 30 days after concluding the contract.
  • Information that a business must provide to the consumer before concluding the contract is now specified.
  • Consumers are not protected from fake reviews and less-than transparent online transactions.
  • Consumers have the right to withdraw from a contract made online within 30 days.
  • Consumers will be protected from prices being artificially raised prior to discount events as the seller must inform the consumer about the lowest prices the goods were sold for during the last 30 days.  So a company can't raise the price of something 20% only to then immediately offer it on sale at a 20% discount.
  • Sellers online are not allowed to use "pre-ticked" boxes which would require a consumer to make additional or future payments.
  • If a consumer has been the victim of unfair business practices then they have the right to withdraw from the contract within 90 days.
  • Consumers have the right to claim for defective products within two years.
  • Dual quality goods are now forbidden.  If a retailer sells goods in Czechland, as identical to goods in other countries, but with ingredients, parts or features which are significantly different then the seller can be fined.
The amendment to the Czech consumer protection act falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Industry and Trade and is policed by the Czech Trade Inspection Authority.  I believe that the failing to comply with the law will result in fines up to 5 million Kč (€200.000; ~$231,000).

A few weeks ago I ordered a new router online from Datart but when it arrived I realised that I ordered the wrong thing.  I immediately ordered the correct item but needed to take the wrong item back to the store.  I thought that I needed to do this within 14 days but now that the law has changed I could have waited an extra two weeks before returning it.  This was my first product return I've had since living in Czechland.  It was simple enough.  I took the router and the receipt to the store.  They inspected the product and issued me a refund.  I assumed that they would have just credited the credit card I used to make the purchase online but they gave me cash.

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