The new consumer legislation (entitled “Loi Hamon”) passed on March 17th, 2014 strengthens e-traders’ obligations towards consumers. Notably, this legislation implements in France certain consumer protection provisions enacted at the European level.
Noteworthy provisions include:
- An obligation to provide additional information to the consumer prior to contract, such as information on the product, the e-trader, the means of payment, and the obligation to expressly mention that the order is subject to payment (while this last obligation may seem superfluous to a French consumer, it stems from a willingness to harmonize the rules applicable in each EU Member States; German consumers, for example, are accustomed to paying for an order at the time of delivery);
- Obligation for the e-traders to specify the delivery date or delivery estimate (if silent, the e-traders will have to deliver within 30 days);
- Extension of the withdrawal period (from 7 days to 14 days);
- Reimbursement to the consumer to occur within 14 days (instead of 30 days) (notably in situations where the consumer exercises his right of withdrawal); and
- Prohibition on the e-traders to add goods or services to the consumer’s order by pre-ticking boxes relating to such goods or services.
Further, the e-traders are now prohibited from telephone soliciting any consumer who has indicated that he or she does not want to be solicited, and from using unlisted and blocked telephone numbers in contacting consumers.
All of these provisions came into force on June 14th, 2014. Each e-trader must therefore ensure that the content of its websites as well as its sales contracts and general terms and conditions comply with these terms.