CatEx calls on EU to rethink changes to the Consumer Rights Directive
The UK trade body for small and medium sized ecommerce businesses has called on the EU to amend or abandon proposed changes to the Consumer Rights Directive, which could see retailers forced to sell into all countries within the EU and offer free returns.
The Catalogue Exchange (CatEx) which represents more than 220 companies in the sector said it was extremely concerned about the impact the changes could have on the industry. It has called on the EU Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee to urgently consider the views of CatEx and other industry associations in Europe.
CatEx said its Advisory Board is working in partnership with the British Retail Consortium to lobby against the amendment and to call for a further review. It is also calling on its members to lobby their MEPs, to ensure they are more aware of the wider impact of the legislation.
The trade association said that many MPS are supporting the amendments, as they have been presented to them as enhancing the rights of consumers, but CatEx said it believes it could well reduce consumer choice and lead to consumer confusion and frustration. It is particularly alarmed by Article 17, which could force retailers to offer free returns.
Tim Curtis, CatEx deputy chairman and managing director, Northern Europe, for the clothing cataloguer Lands’ End, said: “Unless our industry raises serious and loud objections, it could soon be mandatory to refund returns postage costs on any order over €40, from any EU country. We believe this change would both hinder the development of cross-border trade and disproportionately affect smaller direct commerce businesses, thereby reducing choice for the consumer and, in the longer run, creating upward pressure on prices. We believe this is counter to the spirit of the legislation and of the Union.”
He continued: “We are also concerned about the impact on the profitability of our members in the UK market. Some of our members already offer free returns on all orders, but many only do this on selected products, or as a promotional offer, and certainly not to customers ordering from countries where they lack the scale or logistics for a low cost returns service.”
CatEx was set up seven years ago and has more than 220 client-side and supplier-side companies as members including Scotts & Co, Boden, Lands' End, Joules Clothing, House of Bath, Handpicked Collection and the British Heart Foundation.
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