The Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS), the trade association representing liquid fuel distributors across Ireland, has welcomed the recent amendments adopted by the EU Consumer Rights Directive that clarify non-network energy should be exempt from the right of withdrawal – and is urging all Irish MEPs to support the amendments.
Following the European Parliament’s adoption of amendments 77 and 20 in its report on better enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection rules, that states non-network energy such as heating oil should be excluded from the right of withdrawal, the FPS has written to all Irish MEPs on this matter and is strongly advocating support for this proposal.
“Consumers naturally need the right of withdrawal for distance sales in order to provide them with the necessary protection – however, distance selling of heating oil is very different to distance selling of products like loans and mortgages,” says Guy Pulham CEO of the FPS.
“The original Article 16 b of the Consumer Rights Directive has unintended consequences when applied to a market which wildly fluctuates financially, such as the heating oil sector. The distance selling of insurance or a top-of-the-range television is not exposed to a market with the same volatility as the non-network energy industry.
“The price for a product like heating oil is determined by the constant changes in crude oil prices and financial markets – and is outside the control or influence of the individual fuel and energy trader. As a result of the price for heating oil changing all the time, prices will likely fluctuate within the withdrawal period, exposing traders to a great economic risk.
“The amendments 77 and 20 acknowledge all this and state non-network energy including heating oil is exempt from the right of withdrawal – and it’s vital that this clarification of Article 16 b is made at EU level.”
Excluding the right of withdrawal for heating oil would include contracts for individual deliveries of non-network energy.
“At the moment, Article 16 b is open to interpretation and the consequences of this can be severe,” adds Guy Pulham.
Nick Hayes, FPS Irish Representative adds: “We’ve seen this happen in Germany where the German Federal Supreme Court decided in 2015 that heating oil can’t be excluded from the right of withdrawal in distance selling, which has left fuel traders in Germany exposed to the risk of customer cancellations between the time the order is placed and the heating oil is delivered, purely down to price changes in that period.
“This matter is of great importance to our FPS members and the entire European fuel supply sector.
“Negotiations between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission have already begun, and we hope this will culminate in an agreement by all on the new Consumer Rights Directive.
“We desperately need clarification of Article 16 b to be made at EU level and are calling upon all MEPs to support the amendments to help ensure non-network energy is excluded from the right of withdrawal.”
22nd March 2019