Certain obligations within the e-commerce area

Showing an accelerated evolution, e-commerce in Romania is one of the fastest-growing economic sectors. Companies are investing more in digitalization and in developing the employee`s digital skills and more entrepreneurs are starting their own online businesses.

In order to provide a higher level of conformity within the e-commerce area, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive 2019/770 concerning contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services and Directive 2019/771 on contracts for the sale of goods that are to be transposed into Romanian legislation by July 2021. It is therefore important that Romanian traders are aware of them.

Although e-commerce in Romania will offer many advantages, it also entails obligations for the trader, especially in relation to the business of customer sales. Before concluding any contract with the consumers, the trader must provide certain basic information in a clear and comprehensible manner.

The trader should provide full details such as name, legal form, registered office, trade register number and sole registration code, e-mail address and telephone number (if available) to enable the customer to contact the trader quickly and communicate with him efficiently. Further, the main characteristics of the goods or services being provided should be set out in an appropriate medium of communication.

With respect to the price and payment method, the trader must specify the total price of the goods or services including taxes, delivery or postal charges and any other costs, the means of payment, the arrangements for payment, the conditions of any deposits or other financial guarantees to be paid or provided for by the customer.

An important aspect that the trader must make available to the customer is the right to withdraw from the contract within 14 days of entering into the contract or receiving the goods. However, it should be noted that the right to withdraw does not apply for example, when perishable goods are sold, or when the goods are custom made or when audio or video recordings or sealed computer programs have been unsealed after delivery.
Where a right of withdrawal is not provided for the trader should inform the customer that they will not benefit from a right of withdrawal or let them know the circumstances under which they lose their right of withdrawal.

Where a right of withdrawal exists, the conditions time limit and procedures for exercising that right, as well as the withdrawal form must be provided by the trader. In certain cases, the customer might have to bear the cost of returning the goods, where applicable and the trader should specify the customer’s obligation to pay for returning the goods and an estimate of the cost of returning the goods that cannot normally be returned by post. An example of this would be bulky goods. If the trader fails to inform the customer in advance, the trader will be liable for the cost of returning the goods.

In addition, the customer will have to pay for any services already supplied during the withdrawal period, e.g., if they had asked for the services to be supplied immediately after concluding the contract and then decided to withdraw from the contract.
When concluding a contract by electronic means that places the customer under an obligation to pay, then the trader must make the customer aware in a clear and prominent manner before the customer places his order, the main characteristics of the goods or services, the total price, including any additional charges, the duration and the conditions for terminating the contract as well as the minimum duration of the customer’s obligations under the contract.

Customers must also be given the opportunity to confirm that placing the order it obliges them to pay the price. If placing an order entails activating a button or a similar function, it has to be labelled in a legible manner only with the words ‘order and pay’ or a corresponding unambiguous wording indicating that placing the order entails an obligation to pay the trader.
If the distance contract is concluded by telephone, the trader has to confirm the offer to the customer who is bound to accept it once he has signed the offeror has sent his written consent. The trader shall provide the customer with the confirmation of the contract on a durable medium within a reasonable time after the conclusion of the distance contract but latest at the time of the delivery of the goods or before the performance of the service begins.

When selling digital content such as music, videos or software online, the traders should also inform the customers about the interoperability of the content with relevant hardware and software, the functionality of the content, such as any geographical restrictions on use and if making copies for personal use is allowed.

When the EU legislation enters into the Romanian legislation it will be necessary that all the above is taken into consideration and will require traders to review their terms and conditions in a way to be more “Customer Friendly”. On the other hand, it will also allow traders to trade in a market where the terms and conditions are clear and should reduce the conflict between the trader and the consumer thereby allowing them to resolve disputes quickly and easily without referring matters to court.

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