New EU rules on digital content and the sale of goods harmonise the main contractual rights, such as remedies made available to consumers and how they are to be exercised.
By 598 votes to 34 with 26 abstentions, the European Parliament adopted new rules to protect consumers who buy a product online, in stores, or who download music and games.
Under EU rules on digital content, anyone who purchases or downloads music, apps, games or uses cloud services or social platforms will be more protected if the operator does not provide or provides the digital content.
The measures aim to ensure equal treatment for consumers who provide data in exchange for digital content or services and for those who pay for it.
The text voted in Strasbourg states that, if it is not possible to correct a digital content or a faulty service within a reasonable period of time, the consumer will be entitled to a price reduction or full refund within 14 days.
If a defect occurs within one year of the date of supply, it is assumed that it already exists, without the consumer having to prove it (reversion of the burden of proof). For continuous supplies, the burden of proof shall remain on the trader for the duration of the contract.
The one-off supply guarantee period may not be less than two years, whereas for continuous supplies it should apply throughout the contract.
Sale of goods: two years EU guarantee
The European Parliament also approved the Directive on the sale of goods, which applies to products and services purchased both online and offline, by 629 votes to 29 with 6 abstentions, whether consumers buy a household appliance, a player or an online computer, or
The trader will be liable if the defect occurs within two years of the consumer receiving the product.
However, Member States may introduce or maintain a longer legal guarantee period in their national legislation in order to maintain the same level of consumer protection as in some countries.
The reverse of the burden of proof is introduced: up to one or two years after delivery, the buyer shall not have to prove that the good is defective.
For example, if a consumer finds that a product he purchased more than six months ago is defective and asks the trader to repair or replace it, he may be asked to prove that this defect existed at the time of delivery.
Under these rules, during a period of one or two years, the consumer would be able to request a remedy without having to prove that the defect existed at the time of delivery.
Secured smart goods
Goods with digital elements, such as smart appliances, smartphones and televisions or related watches, are also covered by this Directive.
Consumers who purchase these products will be entitled to receive the necessary updates during a period of time that the consumer can reasonably expect to be adjusted to the type and destination of the goods and digital elements.
The Directive on the sale of goods aims to ensure a high level of consumer protection across the EU and to create legal certainty for companies wishing to sell their products in other Member States. It harmonizes certain contractual rights, such as remedies available to consumers if a product does not work well or is defective and how such remedies are used.
When a product is defective, the consumer will be able to choose between repairing or replacing it, free of charge.
The consumer will be entitled to an immediate price reduction or termination of the contract and to be recast in certain cases, for example if the problem persists despite the trader’s attempt to resolve it or if the repair is not carried out within a reasonable period of time.