This content is from: Local Insights

Slovak Republic: Cracking down on aggressive selling

Consumer protection has become a hot topic in Slovakia in recent years, particularly when it comes to unfair business practices used by sellers. To address this issue, the Slovak Parliament passed a new piece of legislation, the so-called Distance Selling Act, which took effect in June 2014. It will increase the level of consumer protection and legal certainty in the relationship between consumers and sellers. In this article, we would like to inform you on the most important changes the new legislation introduces.

The Distance Selling Act applies to sales that are made through any form of communication over a distance or without any personal contact between the consumer and the seller. One of the most significant changes is the extension of the time period during which consumers can cancel the purchase contract, which is now 14 calendar days as opposed to the seven-day period under the old regime. In addition, the consumer now has the right to retain the goods until the seller refunds the money already paid as a deposit.

Daniel FutejRadka Sláviková GeržováRudolf Sivák
The new law also regulates so-called high pressure sales events, in which sellers would often take advantage of consumers. It imposes new requirements upon sellers and organisers of these events, such as notification duties towards Slovak authorities regarding time, venue and intent of the sales event. Notification has to be done in writing and at least 20 days in advance. Moreover, drafts of contracts which will be entered into and the prices that will be charged must be provided to authorities in advance. The new regime also applies to contract conclusion periods. If the contract is concluded within 15 business days from the date of the sales event, it is deemed to have been concluded during the sales event. These changes will crack down on the aggressive and other unfair business tactics used by sellers at these events, where very frequently they abuse the trust and weakness of vulnerable groups of consumers, most often the elderly. Moreover, Slovak authorities receive additional competences where they may, in case of a serious violation of duty by the seller, submit a motion to the relevant trade licensing office to have a trade licence revoked.

Another important new obligation is for the seller to secure the express consent of the consumer, stating that he was informed of the duty to pay the price indicated in the order. This way, the consumer will be made aware that they must pay for the goods or services that they have ordered. The legislature is referring to situations where, if the consumer must click a confirmation button or otherwise affirm consent, then those buttons or other methods of confirming consent must be clear and easily readable by stating a firm commitment to pay, or other words indicating that the consumer must pay for the order. If the seller does not secure the consumer's express consent to pay the price, or if the consent misleads the consumer, the consumer does not have to pay the price.

The Distance Selling Act also introduces new obligations on the seller in case of sale goods or telephone sales. The seller now has the duty to inform the consumer of its identifying data (or the identification data about the person acting on behalf of the seller), the commercial purpose of the telephone call and, where the contract requires payment, information about the consumer's duty to pay for the goods or services (or to pay other costs and charges). This information must be given to the consumer at the beginning of every telephone call where the purpose of which is the seller's offer is to enter into a contract with the consumer. The contract between the seller and the consumer is considered concluded when the consumer's written consent to the terms and conditions is delivered to the seller. The duty to conclude a written contract will also be fulfilled when the transaction takes place through electronic means that can capture the intention of the parties and identify the consumer entering into the contract.

Daniel Futej, Radka Sláviková Geržová, Rudolf Sivák

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