European Commission and consumer protection authorities call for clear information on prices and discounts

The European Commission and national consumer protection authorities have published the results of an EU-wide screening of 560 e-commerce sites offering a variety of goods, services and digital content, such as clothing or footwear, computer software and entertainment tickets. Around 60% of these websites showed irregularities regarding the respect of EU consumer rules, predominately in relation to how prices and special offers are presented.

For more than 31% of the websites offering discounts, consumer authorities suspected that the special offers were 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.

Further irregularities found:

  • in 59% of the 560 websites checked, traders did not 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 without going to court; and
  • in almost 30% of the websites, irregularities were found in relation to how information was presented about consumers’ right to withdraw. According to EU law, consumers must be clearly informed about their right to withdraw when they buy online.

The Commission warns that consumer protection authorities will ensure full compliance by the traders concerned by activating their national enforcement procedures where necessary. To read the Commission’s news release in full, click here.