General Law for the Defence of Consumers and Users
In March 2014 came into effect the Law 3/2014, of March 27, through which the consolidated text of the General Law for the Defence of Consumers and Users is modified. This law causes changes of great significance. Example of it (no) for example, there are certain modifications to the terms of distance contracts; but, despite this type of contract is one of the most used in the last few years by consumers of computer equipment and technological advances (cause it is much easier to sign contracts through Internet today than a few years ago), this law has been almost unnoticed, except for the little information that has been said about it in the media.
If we examine the preamble of the Law 3/2014, we’ll notice that the main reason for it to be created, was to execute the transposition into national law of the Directive 2011/38/UE, objective of which is to reinforce legal safeguard of all parts involved in a contract and achieve equality between consumers, users and businessmen in the contractual field, due to the fact that there were certain regulations in the Law 3/2014 which were causing total disadvantage of users and consumers in their connection with the businessman. This also shows us the main role that the European Union is taking above the european states sovereignty, but that’s a remote subject that nothing has to do with this text.
One of the changes executed by the Law 3/2014 which has taken greater prominence in the media, has been the establishment of new pre-contractual requirements which will be specified by the businessman, demanding more clarity and information regarding issues such characteristics of the goods or services covered by the contract, the businessman’s identity, payment procedures… But above all, it has been distinguished the requirement for the total price of the goods, including all taxes and fees. Which means that, from the coming into effect of the Law 3/2014, the well-known shipping costs, produced as a result of shopping online, it wont be possible to add them to the price in the last step of the buying process, because they will have to be included from the beginning, along with the total value of the good, providing to consumers greater security when they shop online, and eliminating the danger that this kind of costs masked for frauds in internet shopping, for example, establishing a surprisingly low price, in exchange for ridiculously high shipping costs. All these changes are found in section twelve single article of Law 3/2014.
We’ll also find similar changes to the explained above, like the obligation of all websites dedicated to selling products from internet, to show clearly all methods of payment available to the consumer; also the fact that this new law requires the seller to specify all possible processes for payment, delivery and performance of the goods or services covered by the contract, and to specify all dates on which the consumer will receive the product or the service will be provided. Without forgetting the right of withdrawal, one of the most important aspects regarding the legal safeguard of the consumer or user, and, thanks to all changes made by the Law 3/2014, the term to withdraw from distance contracts and outside the establishment has been increased to 14 business days (before the changes, were 7 days only).
In conclusion, it is a law that, through a certain number of changes, makes the General Law for the Defence of Consumers and Users suit perfectly the current social context, changing definitions of important concepts like consumer, user, businessman, or distance contract… and establishing new rights and obligations for both contracting parts, trying to reach the goal of definitively eliminate issues such unfair terms, the use of which had been increasing by a high number of sellers in recent years, and through the granting of greater legal safeguard to consumers and users, it tries to make equal both contracting parts, because, in order to reach the existence of this equality, it is necessary to establish it not only from a formal point of view, but also a material and effective equality.