The Regulation Amending the Regulation on Distance Contracts (the "Amendment") was published in Official Gazette no. 31932 dated 23 August 2022. The Amendment introduces radical changes to the Regulation on Distance Contracts dated 27 November 2014 (the "Regulation").
New definitions, such as intermediary service providers and platforms are included in the Regulation, in line with the Law Amending the Law on Electronic Commerce, published in Official Gazette no. 31889 dated 7 July 2022.
Although the effective date of the Amendment was expected on 1 October 2022, effective dates of some of the provisions have been postponed to 1 January 2024, with a most recent regulation published in Official Gazette no. 31953 dated 14 September 2022.
The most important points introduced by the Amendment are summarised below.
Preliminary Information Obligation
As of 1 October 2022, preliminary information made by sellers and providers shall also include information relating to intermediary service providers, as provided for in the Amendment.
Also, relevant information relating to return costs, by whom such cost will be paid, etc. shall be inserted in the preliminary information text.
Right of Withdrawal and Refund of Payment
The Amendment re-formulates the requirements with respect to the usage of withdrawal right, refunds to be made to the consumer and legal periods, mostly to be effective as of 1 January 2024.
Mobile phones, smart watches, tablets, computers delivered to the consumer and goods installed or assembled by the authorised service, purchased through a distance sales contract are included in the "exceptions list" for which withdrawal right cannot be exercised.
Consumers may also notify the intermediary service provider on their exercising their right of withdrawal. In this respect, the time period expected for the return of products by the consumer to the seller or provider has been increased from 10 to 14 days from the date of the withdrawal notification. In this case, and if provided for in the preliminary information, the consumer is liable for the payment of return costs if they do not exceed delivery costs.
The Regulation stated that the seller or provider should, in any event, refund the full amount to the consumer within 14 days from the receipt of withdrawal notification.
This notwithstanding, the Amendment states that such time period shall start upon receipt of withdrawal notification only if such right is exercised before the delivery of the good or service to the consumer. If the
good is already delivered to the consumer, said time period shall start upon delivery of the good by the consumer to the carrier mentioned in the preliminary information. However, if the consumer delivers the good to a different carrier, the time period shall start upon receipt of the good by the seller.
In the event that distance contracts are concluded through platforms, the seller or provider shall be responsible for immediately transmitting the withdrawal notification of the consumer to the intermediary service provider.
Obligations of Intermediary Service Providers
Under the Amendment, new obligations on intermediary service providers have been introduced, effective as of 1 October 2022.
In the event that distance contracts are concluded through platforms established by the intermediary service provider for the conclusion of distance contracts, intermediary service providers are:
- obliged to establish a system that enables consumers to fill in and send the forms regarding right of withdrawal; to communicate and follow up their requests and complaints regarding the right of withdrawal, termination of the contract, refund, transaction records, delivery or performance. Said system must be available without interruption; and
- jointly liable with the seller or provider for the fulfilment of preliminary information obligations vis-à-vis consumers. The burden of proof in this respect shall also be on intermediary service providers.
Intermediary service providers must also:
- immediately forward any request or notice of the consumer to the seller or provider;
- keep the transaction records for a period of three years;
- be held liable in case of failure in non-performance or due performance of the commitments given by the intermediary service provider relating to sales promotions or campaigns carried out without permission of the seller or provider.