- Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Geraint Howells, Iain Ramsay, Thomas Wihelmsson and David Kraft
Chapter 6: Protecting Rational Choice: Information and the Right of Withdrawal
Christian Twigg-Flesner and Reiner Schulze* 1. Introduction Modern-day consumers seeking to find goods or services which suit their needs are faced with an ever-increasing choice of products and suppliers. Moreover, products are becoming increasingly complex, the terms on which they are supplied vary from supplier to supplier, and it can be very difficult for a consumer to choose the ‘right’ product. At the same time, suppliers are using a variety of different methods to market their products to consumers. What was once the paradigm consumer transaction – a purchase in a specialist High Street store after having compared different goods or services on offer – is slowly becoming atypical: consumers can now buy products at their doorstep, at a distance, via the internet and from another country. With so much choice, it will not come as a surprise to hear that consumers may feel overwhelmed, and may take purchasing decisions which do not best suit their needs. A major problem consumers face is that they are not sufficiently well informed about the goods or services on offer, and may decide to buy something which subsequently turns out to be unsuitable for them. In order to respond to these developments, consumer law and policy have developed two regulatory responses: the first is to regulate the provision of information to consumers, particularly at the pre-transactional (that is, the precontractual) stage. Within the European Union (EU), this has been driven by a range of directives which utilise the requirement to provide specified items of information...
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