Conservative MEP unveils new consumer rights proposals

An App providing a single source of advice and dispute resolution is the centrepiece of new EU consumer protection rules unveiled today by Conservative MEP Daniel Dalton.

It would bring together several existing services and enable users to easily access the help they require.

Mr Dalton's report, presented to the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee today, also proposes that online marketplaces should be more transparent about who is selling products and services.

In addition it suggests new powers enabling Member States to tackle the issue of dual quality foods – the practice of branded products being produced to different standards from country to country – and rejects plans by the European Commission to reduce consumers' rights to return goods.

Mr Dalton, the Conservatives' Consumer Protection Spokesman, said: "There are a range of services for consumers but they are fragmented and many people are unaware they exist.

"The App would identify what assistance users require, whether it is information about their rights, help in securing a refund or the resolution of a long running dispute, and direct them to the correct source.

"With more and more people making purchases via apps, it makes sense for them also to be able to turn to one when things go wrong."

On making online marketplaces more transparent, Mr Dalton's aim is to ensure that users know who they are dealing with when they buy online.

He said: "Sometimes it is impossible to discover the ultimate seller of a product, yet this information is important. For instance, where a seller is based can affect the buyer's rights. My proposals address this."

While acknowledging that a minority of people abuse their right to return purchases by, for instance, first using a product to such a degree that it becomes impossible to re-sell, Mr Dalton believes it would be wrong for the EU to change the rules.

He said: "People might be reluctant to buy online if they felt it was going to be more difficult to return products. That is in no-one's interest."