Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The traps of online shopping: the most recent sweep investigation reveals irregularities in how information is presented to consumers

Last week the EU Commission published a press release on the results of a recently conducted EU-wide sweep of e-commerce websites that revealed shocking results: more than half of the websites breached aspects of EU consumer law.

The sweep extended to 560 websites in 26 countries (including 24 Member States, Norway and Iceland), and included a range of websites, from selling clothing, to audio and video equipment and digital content.

More than 60% of websites showed irregularities. It is in particular striking that:
  • Information was misleading in particular in regard to the final price of products. On more than 31% of the websites that offered discounts, consumer authorities suspected that the special offers were not authentic or they thought the way in which the discounted price was calculated unclear. On around 37% of websites the final price at payment was higher than the initial price offered, mainly due to the lack of information on extra unavoidable fees on delivery, payment methods, booking fees etc.
  • 59% of the traders failed the obligation to provide an easily accessible link to the  Online Dispute Resolution Platform, and
  • Almost 30% of websites information on the right of withdrawal was no transparent.
The press release does not contain any information on interesting question on what actions are to be followed to address the above irregularities.

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