New e-commerce consumer regulations
The EU is trying very hard to protect consumers, and is now coming up with new directives that will especially impact owners of B2C e-commerce shops. This new legislation came into force on 28 May 2022.
Hold on tight, we summarise the most important ones for you. And the fines are not to be laughed at. 😱
There is now a difference between effective price cuts and marketing stunts. At least, that is what this rule aims to do. In short, when you give a discount price, you must also give a reference price. And there are rules about that. That reference price must be demonstrably the lowest price you yourself have offered in the last 30 days.
There are exceptions: products with an expiry date are not included and products which are subject to degressive discounting are subject to slightly different rules. Important for omnichannel sellers: you can still offer different discounts in your physical shop and your virtual shop.
This is the largest package, summarised here:
- It is always mandatory to include a telephone number and an e-mail address. Other forms of communication are also possible, but must be stored by the consumer.
- One with major impact for larger e-commerce shops: personalised pricing based on consumer parameters must always be communicated to the consumer.
- Reviews and ratings must be accompanied by an explanation: it must be stated how the reviews are generated and whether there are any paid reviews. False reviews are explicitly prohibited.
Online marketplaces - intermediaries that serve as matchmakers, such as Amazon or Bol.com - must explicitly state how their product listings are sorted (the logical rules for giving products priority over others). It must also be clearly stated whether you are buying from a consumer or a business and what impact that has on your consumer protection. When you buy from a private person, you obviously have no protection. You must also clearly state who must fulfil which obligations in any subsequent transaction.
There is no such thing as free
Transactions without financial settlement, but where you exchange personal data, also fall under this regulation. So if you offer online services or products that can be purchased by filling in a form (hello whitepapers), then this protection also applies.
Without sanctions, these rules do not work, and so the EU has come up with higher penalty criteria. Fines can therefore amount to a few percent (even up to 6%!) of your annual turnover. If there is no annual turnover, you simply get a high lump sum on your leg. That can be up to 2 million euros. Omg ...
If you include incorrect clauses in your terms and conditions of sale, this can also be severely punished. That can be as much as 10,000 euros or even 4% of your annual turnover.
If you would like to learn more, you can read everything on the site of the EU legislation.
Do you want to learn a tongue twister? The full name of this legislation is called: Directive (EU) 2019/2161 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 November 2019 amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directives 98/6/EC, 2005/29/EC and 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards better enforcement and modernisation of the consumer protection rules in the Union