EU-wide website ‘sweep’ finds 60% have consumer rights law irregularities such as providing clear information on prices and discounts
Around 60% e-commerce websites screened as part of an EU-wide ‘sweep’, carried out by the European Commission with the help of the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Network, showed irregularities when it came to adhering to EU consumer rules, in particular how prices and special offers are presented.
The 560 e-commerce websites that were screened offered a variety of goods, services, and digital content, such as clothing or footwear, computer software or entertainment tickets. For more than 31% of the websites offering discounts, consumer authorities suspected that the special offers are not authentic or they found the way the discounted price was calculated unclear. On 211 websites the final price at payment was higher than the initial price offered; 39% of those traders did not include proper information on extra unavoidable fees on delivery, payment methods, booking fees and other similar surcharges. EU consumer law obliges traders to present prices inclusive of all mandatory costs, and where such costs cannot be calculated in advance, their existence at least needs to be clearly presented to the consumer.
Other irregularities found during the sweep include:
- In 59% of the 560 websites checked, traders failed it their obligation to provide an easily accessible link to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform, which is obligatory under EU law. The ODR platform allows consumers and traders to resolve disputes, in relation to online purchases, without going to court.
- In almost 30% of the websites, irregularities were found in relation to how information was presented about consumers’ right to withdrawal. According to EU law, consumer must be clearly informed about their rights to withdrawal when they buy online.
This Commission led screening of websites takes place every year and is assisted by the CPC Network, which is made up of national consumer authorities. This latest screening was carried out last November by consumer protection authorities in 24 EU Member States as well as Norway and Iceland.
For more information:
- European Commission press release issued 22nd February 2019 – ‘Online shopping: Commission and consumer protection authorities call for clear information on prices and discounts’.
- ECC Ireland – shopping online consumer rights.