A Europe-wide ban on “pre-ticked” boxes on websites is included in new consumer rights protection.
Proposals approved by ministers in Luxembourg remove the requirement on consumers to “untick” boxes to avoid extra services when shopping online.
The European Commission cited the example of buying an airline ticket on a website which may also offer extras such as travel insurance or car rental.
On some sites customers are forced to opt out of signing up for extras by unticking pre-ticked boxes, rather than by actively opting in.
A statement said: “With the new directive, pre-ticked boxes will be banned across the European Union.”
Online traders must disclose the total cost of the product or service, as well as any extra fees under the new rules – and customers will be exempt from any costs of which they were not “properly informed” before they placed an order.
A 14-day “cooling-off” period for withdrawing from a sales contract is also included, doubling the current mandatory seven days under EU law.
When consumers pay by credit card, traders will not be allowed to charge more than the extra it actually costs them, and traders operating telephone hotlines allowing consumers to contact them can charge only basic call rates.
The 27 governments in the EU have two years to implement the new rules at national level.
Comment:New rights for shoppers, and a headache for online retailers [Travel Weekly]