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Consumer Rights Directive – what does it mean for you?

The new European Directive on Consumer Rights recently came into force. With the growth of ecommerce in Europe and cross-border selling, the directive aims to further protect consumers and increase their rights when making a purchase online.

It gives clear guidelines on distance selling and in particular, selling online. As an online shop owner there are a few things you’ll need to do but as this article will uncover, they shouldn’t be too much hassle. We’ll cover all of the key points below and what you can do to make sure you’re covered.


Previously, customers had 7 days to return an item (or ‘withdraw from the contract’). This has now changed to 14 days. You must also let the customer know who will be responsible for the cost of returning the goods, with an estimate of cost if not returnable by standard mail.

Steps to take

Update your shop’s terms and conditions and returns policy to include the new time-frame and returns liability.

Right of withdrawal

Following on from the previous point, customers must be informed about their 14 day right of withdrawal.

Steps to take

Ensure your customers are aware of their right to withdraw within your terms and conditions, returns policy or any of your transactional emails.

Downloadable returns form

Online shops must supply a downloadable form that customers can use to cancel contracts and start the returns process.

Steps to take

To make this step super easy for you, we’ve created a tag which can be placed within the ‘order confirmation email’ template. The tag outputs a link to a downloadable form which outlines all of your customers’ rights to withdraw along with areas to sign and send back to you. You’ll be able to implement the tag within your shop’s outgoing emails settings in the coming weeks when the tag is released. Until this point, you can upload a form to your file manager as a PDF and link to this file in your email template.


Once you’ve received the ‘withdrawal/returns’ form from your customer, and the returned item too, you must then issue a refund within 14 days. This is down from the current 30 days. You must also refund the cost of standard postage as advertised on your website.

Steps to take

Terms & conditions will need amending to account for the new refund policy. You should also check that all systems needed to issue a refund are up to date and able to meet this time-frame.

Premium rate phone numbers

Premium rate telephone numbers for customer service are no longer allowed.

Steps to take

If you have any premium rate telephone numbers on your site you must also supply a local rate number that your customers can use to reach you.

Buttons (Pay by credit/debit card)

Call to action (CTA) buttons on your shop such as your ‘Pay by credit/debit card’ buttons must make it clear that a customer has an obligation to pay (for example ‘click here’ is far too generic).

Steps to take

For the majority of ekmPowershop users this point shouldn’t be an issue. Our payment buttons fully comply with the new legislation and indicate that a customer does have an obligation to pay using ‘pay now by credit/debit card’. For those of you that use your own custom buttons, you’ll need to make sure that the text fully complies. A recommendation is that you use the text ‘Order with an obligation to pay’ however ‘Pay now’ will suffice.

Opt-ins & tick boxes

Pre-ticked opt-ins such as subscribing to a newsletter are no longer allowed.

Steps to take

If you’re using automatic opt-ins on your shop you’ll need to remove them. You can use drop-downs or other alternatives but your customer must have to make a selection.

Credit card surcharges

Passing on charges to your customers for paying by credit/debit card, over the cost you actually pay yourself, is now ruled out. If your payment provider is charging you 3% for example, this is the maximum charge you can pass on to your customer.

Steps to take

Adding additional charges during the checkout flow is known to increase cart abandonment so it’s advisable that you factor the card processing costs into the price of your items. If you must put a charge on using credit/debit cards, make sure it isn’t above the rate you’re being charged.

We hope this article clears a few things up, but if you have any further questions please comment below and we’ll help where we can.

Author: Chris Kane is an Online Marketing Expert at ekmPowershop.com, the UK’s leading hosted eCommerce website solution.

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