Case law

  • Case Details
    • National ID: link
    • Member State: Belgium
    • Common Name:Etat belge / S.A. La Redoute catalogue Benelux
    • Decision type: Other
    • Decision date: 20/11/2001
    • Court: Hof van Beroep (NL)/Cour d'appel (FR) (Appellate court, Liège)
    • Subject:
    • Plaintiff:
    • Defendant:
    • Keywords:
  • Directive Articles
    Distance Selling Directive, Article 6, 1.
  • Headnote
    No request for payment can be demanded before the end of the seven day withdrawal period. To encourage consumers to pay in advance by imposing them the payment of an additional 2.45 EUR to cover administrative costs and requiring them to direct themselves to a specific place if they choose to pay after the withdrawal period, does not limit their right to withdrawal.
  • Facts
    La Redoute is a mail-order company. The consumer who wants to buy a product from La Redoute may choose between different methods of payment of the purchase. Each of these options requires the consumer to pay before the end of the withdrawal period, save when he chooses to pick up his order at a designated location, namely one of the specified supermarkets. In doing so, all over Belgium more than 200 pickup points are available to the consumer.
    La Redoute requires consumers who opt for payment after the withdrawal period to pay an additional 99 francs (2,45 EUR) to cover administrative costs.
    La Redoute also offers credit arrangements through “Finaref”. Finaref provides the consumer, free of charge, with a credit card. When an order is placed via the “pocket card”, the consumer’s credit card is debited, but no effective money transfer is made until the end of the withdrawal period. As a subscriber to the pocket card, the consumer always has the right to cancel the billing of his credit card. The consumer using the “pocket card” system is not required to pay for the extra administrative costs.
  • Legal issue
    According to Article 80 para 3 of the Act of 14 July 1991, no payment may be requested from the consumer before the end of the withdrawal period.

    The court finds that the Act of 14 July 1991 does not forbid sellers to offer consumers different payment methods, as long as the consumer is given also the possibility to pay after the end of the withdrawal period. The consumer may however not be forced to choose for the payment before the end of the withdrawal period. Consequently, encouraging consumers to do so, is not in itself an infringement of the consumer’s right.

    Then the court assesses whether in this case the consumer is forced to pay in advance. In that regard the court concludes that the transport costs which the consumer has to bear for picking up the order at one of the pickup points is not to be regarded as a payment, since the products are delivered in supermarkets to which consumers direct themselves for ordinary daily purchases. Moreover, there are such a great number of pickup points and Belgium has such a small territory, that consumers will not have to travel a great distance. Therefore the costs connected with picking up the order are merely symbolic.

    The court also considers that an extra payment may imposed on the consumer if he chooses to pay after the withdrawal period, but only if this extra payment corresponds effectively to the real cost of that payment method and does not constitute a sanction for choosing that payment method.

    As such, this payment facility with extra costs does not prevent the consumer from choosing to pay after the expiry of the withdrawal period, nor does it discourage him to do so. The court is furthermore of the opinion that these extra costs charged correspond to genuine administrative costs.

    Also the “pocket card” system does not infringe the law, since the consumer can at any time cancel his payment order during the withdrawal period and no effective payment is executed before the end of the withdrawal period.

    The court finally concludes that none of the payment methods offered by La Redoute does violate the Act of 14 July 1991.
  • Decision

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