Consumer rights ‘could be lost’ under new EU directive

July 16, 2009 at 12:44 pm Leave a comment

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A House of Lords Committee has asked the government not to agree to the European Commission’s Consumer Rights Directive.

The EU Committee said consumers could lose key rights, such as the right to reject faulty goods and choose whether they want a refund or repair.

They are also highly critical of the two year limit on a trader’s responsibility for repairing or replacing faulty goods.

The Committee thought this could be problematic because some goods, such as boilers, cars, and double glazing should be expected to last longer.

Consumer groups questioned whether businesses would continue to produce hardwearing goods if they knew they would only be responsible for problems occurring within two years.

Baroness Howarth, Chairman of the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Social Policy and Consumer Affairs, said:

“We support the European Commission’s desire to update the Directives on consumer rights for the benefit of both consumers and businesses.

“We feel however that this is not something that should be rushed and therefore consider that the Government should not agree to the Directive until it is clear that it will deliver on these aims.

“We think it is vital that consumers throughout the EU do not lose their existing rights.

“In the UK we are keen to protect the right to reject and the trader’s existing six-year liability for faulty goods.

“Finally we feel the Commission may be overly optimistic about the impact the Directive will have on cross-border trade.

“It is probably barriers of language and culture rather than regulation that mean most of us will continue to purchase the majority of our goods and services within our own national borders.”

The Committee expressed concern that the Directive could reduce the level of information provided to consumers buying financial services and therefore recommend that these services should not be affected by this Directive.

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