The new Consumer Rights Directive will come into force in the European Union on June 13, 2014. In this blog, we explain what exactly this means and whether it will also affect you in Switzerland as a Swiss e-commerce provider.

The Consumer Rights Directive is a new law that will come into force throughout the European Union on June 13, 2014. It governs a number of legal matters in the field of online retailing that are intended in particular to protect the rights of customers when shopping online. Among other things, the content relates to the customer’s right to cancel and the retailer’s legal obligation to provide information.

Will the new law also affect Swiss online retailers?
Although the EU Consumer Rights Directive does not apply directly in Switzerland, it may still affect Swiss-based online retailers under certain circumstances. According to Swiss law, cross-border contracts with consumers are subject to the laws of the country in which the consumer is ‘ordinarily resident’, provided that at least one of the following conditions applies (Art. 12 Federal Act on International Private Law):

  • the provider accepted the order in the customer’s country of residence (e.g. an order from a German customer in a German branch);
  • or the provider launched a promotion or advertising campaign in the customer’s country of residence and the customer then performed the legal transaction required to conclude a contract from within that country (e.g. sending the order);
  • or the provider caused the consumer to travel abroad to complete the order.

If a Swiss provider has an active presence in the EU (e.g. via an .eu or .de domain) or advertises its products and services in the EU, then it will very likely be affected by the EU Consumer Rights Directive. However, we would always recommend consulting a specialist to clarify the exact legal situation in individual cases.

The EU Consumer Rights Directive is coming

What is the new law about?
The law includes the following changes, for example:

  • There are different cancellation policies for different types of goods. For instance, the cancellation policies for goods sent by parcel are different than for downloaded products.
  • When a customer wishes to exercise their right to cancel, they must inform the online retailer. Returning the goods without an explanation is no longer permitted.
  • For several new product categories, the customer is no longer granted a right to cancel. This includes certain types of wine, for example.
  • In future, online retailers will be able to pass on the cost of returns to the customer, irrespective of the price of the goods.
  • Where can I find detailed information?
    Trusted Shops has published several white papers, which provide answers to questions on the new law. ePages has also posted blogs on the subject.

    Have any changes been made to the Hostpoint webshops?
    To coincide with the new law coming into force, some changes will be made to the administration panel of Hostpoint webshops. You’ll be able to offer your customers different cancellation policies, for example. The potential changes are explained in the ePages blog.

    Note: we do not warrant that the legal advice in this article is complete or correct. It is in no way intended as a substitute for proper legal advice in individual cases.

The EU Consumer Rights Directive is coming

Thomas Brühwiler

Thomas Brühwiler is Hostpoint's Head of Communication and also responsible for all activities in the social media field. He was already typing on a Commodore 64 in his very young years – he used to copy pages of BASIC code from magazines. Often he had to accept that the program didn’t run because an error had sneaked into the jumble of characters. Today he cannot imagine his life without computers, in spite of those experiences.