Eliminate Your Fears And Doubts About Consumer Law.

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Eliminate Your Fears And Doubts About Consumer Law.
 
Introduction
 
Eliminate Your Fears And Doubts About Consumer Law.
 
Sometimes when we hear the word consumer law, we shudder and think lawsuits, legal and other negative connotations. In this article I will share with you some areas you as a business manager or owner can focus on to ensure your customer is satisfied and will come back to you again and again. 
 
“Definition
An individual who buys products or services for personal use and not for manufacture or resale. A consumer is someone who can make the decision whether or not to purchase an item at the store, and someone who can be influenced by marketing and advertisements. Anytime someone goes to a store and purchases a toy, shirt, beverage, or anything else, they are making that decision as a consumer.”
What department deals with consumer rights here in Ireland?
 
"The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is an independent statutory body with a dual mandate to enforce competition and consumer protection law in Ireland. Their mission is to make markets work better for consumers and businesses. Their vision is for open and competitive markets where consumers are protected and empowered and businesses actively compete. The CCPC was established on 31 October 2014 after the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority were amalgamated."
 
This and much more information can be found on their website https://www.ccpc.ie/ which deals with businesses and consumers.
 
What is EU consumer law?
 
Now that more and more business are now going online to enter new markets aswell as having a presence locally through a small shop or possibly sales agents working on their behalf, it is much more important for business owners to be aware of consumer rights and law.
 
EU consumer law consists of different sets of rules.
 
Putting it simply the law ensures that the consumer is treated fairly and to make sure whatever product the consumer purchases is fit for purpose and does what is said on the tin. When I sold insurance some years ago the consumer had 30 days cooling off period and that was clearly outlined to the customer prior to signing the contract. Does your customer have a cooling off period and if so are they made aware of the period of time? EU consumer law deal with the fairness of commercial practices, fairness of contract terms, pre-contractual information requirements, consumer’s right of withdrawal and other consumer protection rules specific for particular types of consumer contracts (e.g. contracts negotiated outside of business premises, contracts concluded at a distance, e.g. online) and/or sector-specific ones (e.g. consumer credit contracts, package travel contracts, timeshare contracts, etc.).
A consumer is a person anywhere in Europe who buys a product from you that they will use for personal purposes and not business use.
 
Example: the consumer is someone who consumes the goods you sell and the services you supply, i.e. a couple who buys cups and saucers for their family home or a home cleaning services provided to an elderly couple.
 
In some European countries, the use of a VAT number is a good indicator if the person is purchasing the product for personal or business use.
 
What information is very important to display for the consumer to see?
 
The consumer rights directive has stated that 8 key information items have to be clearly presented to the consumer and they are;
1. The main characters such as price etc
2. Your identity such as trade name etc
3. The total price including taxes etc
4. The manner in which the price is to be calculated and your complaints handling policy
5. The existence of a legal guarantee  - Directive 1999/44/EC
6. The duration of the contract
7. The functionality etc
8. The interoperability of digital content with hardware and software if any
 
It is important to be aware of individual state policies as they may differ slightly from state to state.
 
Conclusion
 
There’s a lot to take in about consumer law and a survey conducted recently has shown that possibly 60% of SMEs are not fully aware of their rights. The EU will shortly be running training courses for SMEs across Ireland to bring them up to speed on their consumer rights. Hopefully, you have found this short article helpful and if in doubt seek advice.
 
 
Charlie Mernagh
Consumer Law Ready Trainer
2UpSkill
 

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