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“No soup for you, EU” the new Business Model?

The recent deadline for serious worldwide enforcement of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation prompted hectic activities with many international companies to cook up new (hopefully compliant) privacy policies. Discussion of the subject matter is full of misconceptions, uncertainties, questions, worries, fear of legal consequences, and outrage on both sides of the fence.

What people don’t seem to realize is that GDPR isn’t really all that new, and it is also not the only regulation designed to protect consumers (the little guys) in the European Union from unethical corporations (the big guys) worldwide. Protection of personal data has been the law in various shapes within the EU since 1995. The EU distance selling directive was implemented in 1997. The main goal of both these regulations is to balance the powers – protecting the “weak” from the “powerful”.

But what about international C2C trade? I live in the USA. If I want to sell my handmade products to people who live in the EU, I have to comply with all those EU regulations, on top of any laws in my own country. I have to not only have a GDPR compliant privacy policy, I also have to disclose my full home address and phone number to EU residents, even before they buy anything from me. I have to make sure their purchase arrives within 30 days, I have to allow 14 days for cancellation of the contract, I may have to pay for the return shipping, I have to give two full years of warranty.

Have you ever filled out a customs form? Do you know exactly how much VAT and customs cost would be for the specific country where your customer lives, so you can tell them exactly what their payment will be? Do you know how many copies of the invoice to attach to your package? Are you sure your invoice is formatted correctly? Did you include a return form in the package? Did you inform the consumer of all their rights? Is your product restricted from import into a specific EU country? Is your material (or ingredients) compliant with relevant EU laws?

For my little “self-funding” hobby, the ExxoPok, the problem is of a theoretical nature. So far only three of my buyers where from the EU, and there were no problems. Some of my fellow micro-business owners, however, are “blessed” with more than just a few isolated European transactions – and those people have already stopped doing business with EU residents, or are now seriously considering it.

15:14 Posted in Opinions | Permalink | Comments (0)