Taxes & Law

The introduction of the withdrawal button in e-commerce

Fatih-Kağan Taşkoparan

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A new initiative by the Council of the European Union provides for changes to the existing right of withdrawal: Among other things, online retailers are to be obliged to offer a withdrawal button with every order in future. Read here in the fynax blog how the e-commerce association is reacting to this and what the Council of the European Union expects from its implementation.

The new proposed initiative aims to improve consumer protection in the digital environment. By introducing a right of withdrawal button, consumers are to be made more transparently aware of the options for withdrawing from a purchase contract. This is intended to strengthen their rights. At the same time, the Council of the European Union hopes to reduce unnecessary burdens, create a level playing field for financial service providers throughout the internal market and improve transparency in communication with consumers, as outlined in the Draft directive 2022/0147 is made clear. Revocation or withdrawal from the purchase contract should only be possible by stating the name and contract number via the revocation button.

So much for the theory. But what does it look like in practice for online retailers? The e-commerce association bevh is particularly vocal in its criticism. Representatives criticize the fact that sweeping changes to the law further complicate the withdrawal process instead of simplifying it. The handling of partial orders or partial revocations is also not sufficiently regulated, as can be seen from the Statement of the E-Commerce Association, because partial cancellations are not possible, either all items of an order are canceled or none of them.

Alien Mulyk, bevh Head of Public Affairs Europe, also warns that what has not been a problem to date should be regulated. "Nowhere is it easier to return goods than in e-commerce. The additional rules therefore do not provide customers with any improvements - on the contrary. Revoking orders is even more complicated than using existing options, for example via the customer account or the returns slip. For reasons of customer loyalty alone, online retailers are already making sure that consumers can exercise their right of withdrawal in an uncomplicated and user-friendly way."

It remains to be seen how the Council of the European Union will deal with the criticism from the Association of Online Retailers, whether new guidelines will be introduced or whether the initiative will be amended again after all. What is certain is that the right of withdrawal in online retail will continue to be an important topic in consumer protection in the near future.