EU consumer law could change returns period

EU consumer law could change returns period

A London MEP has called on the EU Commission to intervene in a consumer directive which would double the amount of time customers have to return books, which he claims would increase paperwork and cost booksellers money.

The directive could be adopted by 30th May, and would mean customers could return a book within 14 days of purchase for a full refund, instead of the seven days required currently.

The Antiquarian Booksellers Association is concerned the directive would increase the likelihood of consumers returning books after reading them, which would reduce overall sales and cost time in paperwork. ABA president Laurence Worms wrote to four London MEPs, calling on them to lobby the EU Commission to put books on the list of items exempt from the rule. He said: “It will certainly harm small and vulnerable business-owners, not least because of the time it takes to sort out all the paperwork. Someone could even buy a book to put it on eBay, and if it doesn't sell, return it and get their money back.”

MEP Dr Charles Tannock said: “The whole economic basis of the trade in books —old or new—is completely undermined [by the directive] . . . The only areas of the market where consumers are conspicuously and acutely in need of protection are those where private sellers are selling on public platforms such as eBay . . . [where] the EU declines to legislate.”

The Booksellers Association said it had consulted with European colleagues over the directive, but was confident that abuse would not happen.