In April 2018, the European Commission presented its “New Deal for Consumers”, which includes a proposal to amend a series of EU consumer protection directives (directive on unfair terms in consumer contracts, price-indication directive, unfair commercial practices directive and directive on consumer rights). While we welcome this proposal, we warn that some provisions may in fact end up weakening -instead of strengthening- the rights of consumers.
As entities in charge of treating consumer complaints in the energy sector, in the last months, NEON members have observed a large increase of complaints related to unfair commercial practices, especially in doorstep selling (aggressive commercial practices, misleading or missing information). We do therefore welcome the possibility for Member States to further regulate this issue, especially in view of protecting the most vulnerable consumers.
It is however worrying that the proposed review would no longer oblige traders to provide information on their complaint handling policy before a contract is signed. Data on cases received by national and regional dispute-resolution services and ombudsmen active in the energy sector show that an increasing number of consumers is affected by unfair practices in doorstep selling. These consumers do not have to be left to themselves.
With its “New Deal for Consumers”, the European Commission intends to strengthen the rights of consumers. It is therefore essential that European Union legislators correct these provisions in order to avoid going against the initial purpose of this review.