Are you a consumer? Find out in which areas you are protected!
Consumer protection is one of the main goals of the European Union. Consumer protection is achieved through the harmonization of national legislation of Member States by means of Directives issued by the European Union, so that Member States provide the same level of protection to consumers.
Through harmonization, the internal market of the European Union is promoted and the balance between consumer protection and competitiveness of businesses, is achieved.
Upon joining the European Union, the importance of consumer protection has started to increase in Cyprus and appropriate procedures have been put in place by the competent authorities and private sector entities.
In which Areas are Consumers Protected?
There are many areas in which consumers are protected in Cyprus, including the following:
- The obligation to provide information to consumers upon purchasing products or services. This obligation includes agreements for the purchase of products (for example information relating to the price), loan agreements (for example information relating to the Annual Percentage Rate), insurance agreements etc.
- The right to withdraw, meaning: the right to cancel the agreement without the need to give any reasons in cases the agreement is made outside business premises or through distance selling, such as purchasing products or financial services (for example car insurance) online.
- Protection of consumers from unfair trading practices, detrimental to the interests of consumers. For example, trading practices that mislead consumers or those containing incorrect or fictitious information.
- Protection of consumers in relation to product safety. This means that any products produced, imported, or distributed in the European Union must not present a risk to the health and safety of those using the products.
- Protection of consumers through the use of out-of-court settlement of disputes arising from agreements for the purchase of products or services by businesses. This protection aims to provide quick (within 90 days) and low-cost resolution of disputes between consumers and businesses, when the consumer has a complaint against a business.
- Protection of consumers in relation to loan agreements made between consumers and banking institutions or other credit providers. This protection refers to the obligation to provide information to consumers, but also the right of a consumer for early repayment of the loan without unreasonable charges as well as protection from the unlawful charging of interest.
- Protection of consumers in relation to unfair contract terms. This is one of the most important aspects of consumer protection at a European level since a consumer can treat such unfair terms as invalid. Such terms can be deemed to exist in loan agreements, service agreements, and agreements for the sale of products. An example would be a term stating that interest is calculated on the basis of 360 days instead of 365 days.
- Protection of consumers in relation to travel and holidays. This type of protection applies to agreements for package holidays and airline reservations and includes the right of the consumer to a full refund due to the cancellation of a flight or the right to compensation for flight delay.
- Protection of consumers in relation to guarantees, purchases, pricing and discounts, such as the right of a consumer for a two-year legal guarantee for faulty products.
The Consumer Protection Service is the competent authority for examining the compliance of businesses with consumer protection legislation.
If a consumer has a complaint relating to an agreement made with a business, the consumer has the right to apply to the Cyprus Consumer Center for ADR.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The publication of this article is co-funded by the European Union’s “Consumer Programme (2014-2020)”.