The Directive on distance contracts for financial services will be adopted tomorrow. As the name suggests, this directive makes or revises provisions on loans and other financial services. However, it also contains a completely unrelated provision on the right of withdrawal for remote sales contracts. With the new obligation to introduce a cancellation function for digitally concluded sales contracts, however, the EU is introducing a superfluous duplicate structure in online commerce, with which everyone loses: Consumers, retailers and future technologies. The Initiative Online Print (IOP) has joined forces with the bevh to warn against this.
“The right of revocation and return could never be exercised as easily and quickly as it is today. The new revocation button now wants to make it even easier for customers, but achieves the exact opposite,” explains Alien Mulyk, Head of Public Affairs Europe and International at bevh. The problem: “According to the exact wording of the directive, only the entire purchase contract can be revoked with the button. If a purchase contract is concluded for several goods, i.e. if several things are ordered at the same time, all products would have to be revoked via this function – even those that the customer wants to keep.”
Paragraph 25 of the legal text only states that partial revocations “may” be made possible for customers if retailers find a technical solution. How they are supposed to clearly identify individual items of a collective order only by means of the contract number, the customer name and the confirmation method remains unanswered. The EU’s original idea of making it just as easy to revoke goods as it is to order them has been rendered completely unrealistic by the new regulation. For industries such as fashion retail, this can become a problem, as clothing items in particular are often ordered collectively in order to try them on at home and return individual pieces if they are not liked.
“It is incomprehensible why financial experts have taken a completely irrelevant, half-baked regulation, which is not needed at all. The regulation now creates a considerable, additional technical effort for companies, can lead to misconceptions among consumers and ultimately offers them no added value,” summarizes Alien Mulyk.
Industry 4.0 is being slowed down
As the Initiative Online Print e. V. points out, the cancellation button is particularly damaging for companies that are driving forward Industrialization 4.0 with their digital trade and production processes. In addition to standardized products that fall under the right of withdrawal, online print shops are primarily ordered for products that are produced “just in time” and are completely customized to meet customer needs. The fact that these products, which serve the growth market of mass customization, are incompatible with the new cancellation button was completely disregarded by the directive.
“There is no right of cancellation for personalized orders under current law. However, if they are ordered together with standardized products, a cancellation button would have to be offered in the future. However, this conveys the impression that not only the standardized but also the individualized orders could be cancelled at any time, which is misleading and wrong,” said Bernd Zipper, Chairman of the Board of IOP.
The customer is thus led to believe that he can return all items in his order without any limitations. If there is then no technical solution for revoking individual products from these mixed shopping carts, as was possible with the registration that was previously necessary and is now no longer required, the companies in the online print industry could suffer damage on an unforeseeable scale. “In addition to a significantly higher communication effort for the clarification of the articles that have not been legally cancelled, a great deal of resentment will arise on the customer side,” summarizes Bernd Zipper.
At the same time, online print shops in particular are true specialists when it comes to process optimization and automation – and are thus actually open to sensible changes. “However,” the IOP board chairman continues, “when a new regulation only causes confusion instead of added value and means damage for the companies, simplification goes too far.”
About the Initiative Online Print
The Initiative Online Print e.V. is a globally unique association of the leading small and large online printers in Europe to form an independent communication and networking platform. The member companies represent a total online print-driven market turnover of over 12 billion euros. Together, the members actively promote fair competition in online printing services and the perception of the online print industry as an independent sector within the global printing industry. The IOP sees itself as the mouthpiece of the online print industry and stands for the future viability of the entire print industry.
The Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland e.V. (German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association, or bevh) is the industry association of interactive retailers (i.e., online and mail-order retailers). In addition to mail-order companies, well-known service providers are also affiliated with bevh. Following mergers with the Bundesverband Lebensmittel-Onlinehandel (Federal Association of Online Food Retailers) and the Bundesverband der Deutschen Versandbuchhändler (Federal Association of German Mail Order Retailers), bevh represents the small and large players and around 90 percent of the industry’s retail sales. bevh represents the industry’s interests vis-à-vis legislators as well as political and business institutions. In addition, the association’s tasks include informing members regarding current developments and trends, organizing the mutual exchange of experiences, and providing expert advice.
Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland e.V. (bevh)
Friedrichstraße 60 (Atrium)
Phone: 030 40 367 51 31
Mobile: 0162 252 52 68