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EU Commission unveils plans to help online shoppers claim refunds

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The European Commission has unveiled new proposals to help consumers and small businesses claim their money back on items bought online.

The Commission intends to simplify the European Small Claims Procedure for consumers and business owners who have received faulty goods or who have a made a purchase and not received the item.

The key change would be raising the ceiling for filing a claim from €2,000 to €10,000.

“No consumer or business claim is too small for justice to be served”, said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner.

“Having listened to consumers and businesses, today the Commission is proposing rules that will make a truly European procedure more effective and relevant to daily life.”

The European Small Claims Procedure, which was adopted in 2007 and has been applied since 2009, has reduced the cost of litigating cross-border small claims by up to 40% and the duration of litigation from two years and five months down to an average duration of five months, the Commission said.

The proposals also include: capping court fees so they do not exceed 10% of the value of the claim, allowing claimants to launch procedures by email; and making teleconferencing or videoconferencing “natural tools” in oral hearings.

Consumer example: An Austrian consumer ordered skiing equipment from a German website. He paid €1,800 in advance via bank transfer. The trader never delivered the equipment and did not reimburse the purchase price. The consumer therefore started a European Small Claims Procedure. The Austrian court in Linz issued a judgment in favour of the consumer, which was enforced by the German authorities in Charlottenburg. The consumer then received a refund of the purchase price.

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