Services Directive: FAQ
Your rights when availing of services from other EU member states?Your rights when buying services in other EU countries.Does the service provider have the appropriate qualifications/ license /certificates etc required to trade?What information is the service provider obliged to provide?Who can help me if I have a dispute with someone I have bought a service from?
There are laws in place which are applicable across the EU as a whole which will offer you protection when you purchase services on an EU level. The Directives listed on this page apply in all EU Member States.
Doorstep selling 85/577/EEC
Special rules exist for EU consumers who conclude contracts with traders for goods and services at their doorstep, in the consumer's home, at his place of work or during an excursion organised by a trader for consumers. Directive 85/577/EEC aims to protect the consumer in respect of contracts negotiated away from business premises.
Distance Selling 97/7/EC
European Directive 97/7/EC, more commonly known as the Distance Selling Directive gives consumers certain rights when buying services (and goods) at a distance. "At a distance" covers those transactions made on-line, by phone, fax, or mail order. For example Mrs Hadley, who lives in the UK, books a Wine Tasting tour in France over the Internet.
Package Travel 90/314/EEC
The Directive covers pre-arranged holiday packages which combine at least two of the following:
Consumers are protected where: (a) at least two of the above elements are sold at an inclusive price and (b) the service covers a period more than 24 hours or includes an overnight stay.
- Other tourist services not ancillary to transport or accommodation and accounting for a significant proportion of the package
Unfair Contract Terms 93/13/EEC
The Unfair Contract Terms Directive (1993/13/EEC) introduces a notion of "good faith" into consumer contracts, so as to prevent significant imbalances in the rights and obligations of consumers on the one hand and sellers and suppliers on the other hand. This general requirement is supplemented by a list of examples of terms that may be regarded as unfair. Terms that are deemed to be unfair under the Directive will not be binding on consumers. The Directive also requires contract terms to be drafted in plain and intelligible language and states that ambiguities will be interpreted in favour of consumers. Member States must ensure that effective means exist under national law to enforce these rights and that such terms are no longer used by businesses.
The Timeshare Directive (94/47/EC) was adopted in 1994 in order to protect consumer's interests and provides that:
- Purchasers have the right to information in a prospectus prior to the signing of the contract, as well as requirements for the content of the contract
- Once the contract is signed, the consumer has a cooling-off period of at least 10 days, during which he can withdraw from the contract without giving any reason
- A ban on advance payments throughout the cooling-off period
Sale of Goods and Associated Guarantees 99/44/EC
Under the Directive, sellers of consumer goods within the EU are obliged to guarantee the conformity of the goods in question for a period of two years after the delivery of the goods.
EU Services Directive
A key part of the European Services Directive, which was transposed into Irish law in 2010, is to increase consumers' confidence when availing of services from businesses based anywhere in the EU. It achieves this by ensuring that, regardless of where the consumer and business are located within the EU, consumers have access to a minimum level of information and access to a complaints procedure
The European Union has agreed a number of pieces of legislation that protect consumers in all member states. As these Directives have direct effect in Ireland, consumers here may avail of the protection offered.
For example the Sale of Goods and Associated Guarantees Directive 99/44/EC states that goods sold must be as described, fit for purpose, be of merchantible quality and correspond to any sample provided.
If you are in another EU member state and access goods or services there, you have an array of legal rights under EU Directives and any additional legislation that may apply in that country.
If you are in Ireland and access goods and services in another EU Member State via distance selling, for example on line, by telephone or fax etc, you are protected by the applicable EU directives, as well as any corresponding Irish legislation.
It is important to choose a service provider carefully, so as to ensure that they have the correct licenses required to work and the qualifications needed to ensure you are receiving a high quality service.
The requirements to trade in certain industries vary amongst the Member States. Thus before choosing your service provider check whether they are obliged to hold a licence or equivalent to trade, and who regulates this. You can find a a list of relevant bodies to provide you with the requisite informationon and a link to additional information on each country on the European map. If you cannot find the information that you require please contact us and we will source this for you.
Service providers will have to ensure that the following information is available to their customers:
- The name, legal status, form, and address of the business
- If registered in a trade or other similar public register, the register's name and the registration number
- Particulars of the regulator if subject to an authorisation scheme in Ireland or other EEA country
- The relevant ID number if the service is subject to VAT
- If carrying on a regulated profession, any professional body or similar institution with which the business is registered, the professional title and the EEA country in which that title was granted
- General terms and conditions
- The existence of any contractual terms concerning the competent courts or the law applicable to the contract
- The existence of any after-sales guarantee not imposed by law
- The price of the service, where pre-determined
- The main features of the service, if not clear from the context
- If required to hold professional liability insurance or a guarantee, information about the cover and contact details of the insurer and territorial coverage
- The contact details where customers can make a complaint
They may provide this information on their website, in any documents supplied to customers or where the service is provided.
Service providers will have to supply certain information if a customer asks for it, including:
- The price of the service, where not pre-determined, or a sufficiently detailed estimate
- If carrying on a regulated profession, a reference to the professional rules in the country where they are established and how to access them.
- Information on other activities carried out by the business that is directly linked to the service and measures taken to avoid conflict of interest.
- Codes of conduct to which the business is subject and the websites from which these are available.
Service providers must resolve complaints as quickly as possible, doing their best to find a satisfactory solution, and inform customers of any codes of conduct or dispute-resolution procedures they follow.
Finally, service providers must not discriminate on the grounds of nationality or place of residence. If you would like further clarification on any point above or any matter linked with accessing a service provider please feel free to contact us.
There are many organisations that can offer advice and assistance in resolving a dispute that has arisen. You can find detailed lists of consumer organisations by selecting the relevant country on our European map.
EUROPEAN CONSUMER CENTRE
The European Consumer Centre Network offers consumers across Europe advice on their rights when shopping in another European state. The ECC Network also offers a dispute resolution service. If necessary, ECC Ireland can liaise directly with a trader via its sister centre in the country of purchase. ECC Ireland also offers online dispute resolution (ODR) through the Internet Ombudsman, a web-based arbitration service where consumers can register their complaints about products or services that they have purchased on the internet. These complaints would then be resolved by neutral conciliators and adjudicators.
Address: MACRO Centre, 1 Green Street, Dublin 7
Tel: + 353 1 8797620
Fax: +353 1 8734328