In July 2014 the amendments in the Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”) entered into force after their promulgation in the State Gazette issue 61. The CPA transposes the Directive 2011/83/EU and these amendments add new requirements to traders when concluding distance contracts or on-line sales.
The most important amendment in the CPA is the increase of the number of days during which the consumer may withdraw from a distant contract. Upon withdrawal within the indicated term, the consumer shall not owe any compensation, penalty, nor shall he be obliged to indicate the reason for his withdraw. When the contract is for services provision, the beginning of the 14-day period is the day of the conclusion of the contract. For contract on sale of goods, the the 14-day period starts on the day the goods are acquired, pursuant to art. 50, para. 1, p. 2 of the CPA.
The consumer protection has been strengthened as well by the newly implemented provision which regulates the cases when a trader has not fulfilled his obligation to inform the consumer about his right to withdraw from the distant contract in a 14-day period. In case of such an omission and non-compliance with the statutory provisions on behalf of the trader, the consumer may withdraw from the contract within a period of a year and 14 days.
In case the consumer exercises his right to withdraw from the contract, the trader is obliged to reimburse all payments received, including the delivery expenses, no later than 14 days after he has been informed about the withdrawal.
The amendments in the CPA supplement the requirements to information, which the trader is obliged to deliver to the consumer during pre-contractual relations. In distant contracts which are concluded on-line via an internet site and which provide for a payment obligation for the consumer, the trader is obliged to provide the consumer with particular information, pertaining to: the total price of the goods or services including all taxes and fees, the payment terms, delivery, execution, date on which the goods shall be delivered, the conditions, the term and the method of exercising the right of withdrawal in a clear and obvious way in a close vicinity to the button through which the order is to be made. This amendment will definitely lead to changes in currently existing internet sites dealing with e-commerce.
When the placing of the order is related to activating a button or a similar function, the button or the similar function shall be labeled in an easily legible manner only with the words “order with obligation to pay” or a corresponding unambiguous formulation, indicating that placing the order entails a payment obligation for the consumer.
When the trader does not comply with the requirements mentioned, the consumer is not bound to the contract or the order, pursuant to art. 49, para. 3 of the CPA.
The amendments implement a new obligation for the trader, who shall provide the consumer with a copy of the signed contract or a confirmation in paper, or if the consumer agrees, on any other durable medium. The confirmation shall be provided to the consumer in a reasonable term after the conclusion of the distant contract, but not after the delivery of the goods or before the service execution, pursuant to art. 49, para. 8 of the CPA.
A list of the distant contracts from which the consumer cannot withdraw has been supplemented. Such is the case when the service has been fully performed, if the performance has begun with the consumer’s prior explicit consent or the supply of goods is made to the consumer’s specifications. It is important to mention that the consumer has the right to withdraw from distance contracts, which are concluded during an online auction, for example contracts which are concluded using e-bay, which are very common in the e-commerce.
Another amendment, aiming to protect the consumer’s rights in a better way is the trader’s obligation to deliver the goods, subject of the contract within 30 days of the contract conclusion. If the trader does not supply the goods in this term, the consumer shall require the supply to be done within an additional period. In case this period is not met by the trader, then the consumer shall be entitled to terminate the contract, pursuant to art. 103b, para. 2 of the CPA.
The examined amendments will undoubtedly reinforce the consumer’s rights protection and will lead to changes in the current model of e-commerce in Bulgaria. This will increase the security when purchasing goods online.
The article above is intended for information purposes only by drawing your attention to the newest practice of the European Court. It should not be construed as binding legal advice. For a thorough understanding of the subjects covered and prior acting on any issue discussed we kindly recommend Readers consult Ilieva, Voutcheva & Co. Law Firm attorneys at law.