A ban on credit card surcharges and an end to hidden fees are among the changes brought into effect today with the introduction of a new European Union consumer directive.

Traders will no longer be able to charge card fees that exceed the actual cost of processing a card.

Such fees are common when making concert bookings.

They will also have to disclose the total cost of a good or service before an order is placed.

Pre-ticked boxes are also now banned.

The directive on consumer rights also introduces new protections for people shopping online.

An extension of the cooling-off period on an online order increases from seven days to 14, while traders must refund customers within 14 days instead of 30 days following an online cancellation.

Consumers who buy music, films and books in digital format can now avail of a cooling off period for the first time.

This covers up to the time the shopper consents to the actual downloading of a product.