EGDF signs a joint industry statement to reject the rash extension of the withdrawal button to all distance contracts through rushed negotiations
EGDF and other EU trade associations representing the interests of businesses of different sizes (including SMEs), from various sectors (retail, technology, e-commerce and omnichannel), have been closely following the recent developments concerning the proposal to introduce a “withdrawal button” for all transactions concluded at a distance using an online interface. While the industry widely supports the general objective to enhance the possibilities for consumers to exercise their withdrawal right, we believe that this could be achieved through less prescriptive, more workable provisions by:
Fostering a principle-based approach to improve consumers’ awareness of the right of withdrawal: While the undersigned associations support the objective of raising awareness of the right of withdrawal among consumers, we believe that prescriptive provisions, such as a withdrawal button applied to all distance contracts, will not be apt to catch the reality of the entire business landscape and entail unintended implications. We would strongly support making information about the existence of the withdrawal right more visible, accessible and straightforward. This could be achieved for instance by more prominently displaying not only the right of withdrawal, but also the instructions on how to exercise the withdrawal right.
Avoiding one-size-fits-all, prescriptive measures for the implementation of the right of withdrawal:A one-size-fits-all button for the sale of goods and services is not appropriate in a diverse landscape. The signatories suggest a more differentiated approach to allow for a withdrawal method best suited for the type of business and the consumer’s goods or services.
Leaving businesses sufficient leeway to develop their own withdrawal and return policy fitting to their business model and the consumers they serve: Companies should be free to design the process granting an easy withdrawal according to the specificity of their service and interface. Moreover, considering all the different types of consumer profiles traders serve, it is essential that there is the necessary flexibility for businesses to be able to offer the best-suited means and methods to their consumers to exercise their withdrawal rights. We would strongly suggest allowing other solutions that enable the consumer to withdraw from a contract in a very easy manner as an alternative to the button.
In general, the signatories would welcome a harmonised, principle-based approach to improving consumers’ awareness of the right of withdrawal. Nevertheless, we would invite policymakers to leave traders sufficient leeway to align with such a principle, considering the wide range of business models, their size and technical capabilities as well as the vast offer of products and services available on the Single Market. To allow sufficient time to evaluate the impact of any changes, we suggest moving this discussion, including a proper impact assessment and consultation of stakeholders, into the ongoing refit process of EU consumer law framework.
The undersigned associations would be eager to participate in the co-creation of fit-for-purpose instruments to improve consumers’ understanding of the right of withdrawal. We remain open to engage with policymakers and any other relevant stakeholders to reflect upon voluntary measures and industry commitments on the topic.
Read the full statement form here: https://www.egdf.eu/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/FINAL-Industry-Statement-withdrawal-button-21022023.pdf
You can access the EGDF approach on EU consumer law from here: https://www.egdf.eu/documentation/7-balanced-protection-of-vulnerable-players/consumer-protection/