Published on September 4th, 2019 | by The GC Team0
No-deal Brexit “could end UK 14-day returns and will cut EU shoppers’ rights”
International delivery specialist ParcelHero has warned that a no-deal Brexit “may have a considerable impact on UK internet shoppers’ consumer rights, and on the protection offered to European Union (EU) online shoppers buying British goods,” and that, as a consequence, “UK online traders face falling sales at home and abroad.”
UK internet shoppers’ current rights to return almost any items within 14 days, even if they are not faulty, were, says ParcelHero, “introduced in 2014 only because the UK Government was forced to match the EU Consumer Rights Directive.” Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, adds: “After Brexit there is nothing to stop the Consumer Contracts Regulations being repealed, as the European Union Withdrawal Act will end the authority of EU law in the UK. That means our EU-based laws can be overturned by the Government in the future, potentially spelling a return to the bad old days of the former UK Distance Selling Regulations, which gave just 7 days’ grace before sending back unwanted goods. A week is not a long enough time for busy consumers to discover that a product doesn’t fit or live up to their expectations.”
EU shoppers buying British goods online will also find they are less protected, “For example,” says Jinks, “Ireland’s consumer regulator, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, has already launched an information campaign warning that If the UK leaves without a deal, Irish shoppers buying from British stores won’t be protected by the EU’s consumer laws. It says the legal footing for consumer rights will revert from a statutory basis to the terms and conditions of the British company from which an item is being bought. And that could well make British goods less attractive in the EU – especially as, under WTO rules, there will already be VAT to pay on the value of items plus shipping if they are worth over €22, and duties on items worth over €150.”
UK shoppers buying from EU sellers, including Amazon traders, could be similarly impacted.
The Government’s own guide, Buying things from Europe after Brexit, admits: “If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you may have to deal with the court system in the country you bought from to get compensation.” UK shoppers may also be charged more for using credit or debit cards to pay for things in euros when they buy from companies in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway. Payments may also take longer.
“No matter where they live, there really don’t seem to be many upsides for online consumers to a no-deal Brexit,” concludes Jinks. “And that in turn means lower sales for Britain’s online retailers, currently the only retail sector looking at all healthy.”