According to an Express scare story, the EU have plans to 'harmonise' retail in the EU by preventing UK shops from offering refunds should the customer feel the goods do not meet their expectations or needs. This practice has been around for about 100 years and has given solid consumer protection, keeping retailers on their toes. Lola Bello, senior policy advocate for Consumer Focus is not particularly happy about these proposals.Now, I know that some newspapers float stories for circulation, but anything that threatens to disadvantage the UK consumer must be stopped.

It seems though that the UK has no power to prevent this Consumer Rights Directive coming into force, There is even a clause in it to prevent retailers offering any sort of money back guarantee ('gold-plating' the directive).

Now, 'gold plating' is allowed in just about every other facet of EU law. It enables a country to take basic EU law and enhance it in their own country by making it more stringent or more focused on helping the ordinary person. An example would be if the EU said that a bank must respond to a complaint within 2 months and the UK imposed a 1 month deadline, it is better than the EU law so 'gold-plated'. What I don't understand is why the EU would want to prevent gold-plating in this instance. Why do they want to effectively give retailers the ability to stiff the customer? Is it because people across Europe might want to buy goods from UK companies over the Internet instead of shopping in their home countries? Or even make the journey here when buying goods for the extra protection offered here?

What the EU should actually be doing is fighting to give every consumer in the EU enhanced consumer rights along the UK lines. Better stoll just let competition drive the changes. Or is that too difficult for them to get through all 26 other countries? Far easier just to change our law, after all the UK always toes the EU line, doesn't it?

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