E-commerce: information you must provide on your website when selling to consumers – Consumer protection

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European Union: E-commerce: information you must provide on your website when selling to consumers

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If you operate an e-commerce website in the European Union (EU) that sells to consumers, you must provide certain key information so that the consumer can make an informed purchase decision, i.e. buy or no. This information should be made available on your website or other e-commerce channel before inviting the consumer to purchase a product. These requirements are described in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.1

This information includes:

  • The main features of the product.

  • The geographical address and the identity (trade name) of the trader. A trader is a person engaged in the “activity” of selling, that is to say, selling for purposes related to his business, trade, craft or profession.

  • The price includes taxes, as well as any additional transport, delivery or postal costs.

  • How payment, delivery and fulfillment will be arranged.

  • If the right of withdrawal (right to cancel for any reason up to 14 days from purchase) applies.

  • For products sold from an online marketplace, whether the seller is a trader or a non-trader (amateur seller). The marketplace must also notify consumers that consumer protection law does not apply to sales by amateur sellers.

  • When it is possible to search for products offered by different sellers, information on the main parameters (and their importance) that determine the ranking of search results.

  • Where customer reviews are displayed on the website, information about how the e-commerce operator ensures that they are “authentic” reviews from customers who have actually purchased or used the product.

In addition, there are other information requirements for advertising or marketing specific products, for example, travel, timeshare, consumer finance and insurance products. In addition, the e-commerce operator must provide the information required by the “Directive on electronic commerce”2 and within the framework of the “Prices offered to consumers” directive.3

If an e-commerce operator does not provide the above information, or provides it in an unclear, ambiguous, unintelligible or untimely manner, then it is a misleading omission. If, however, the space or time required to provide the above information on the Website or in another e-commerce channel is limited, this will be taken into account in deciding whether there has been a misleading omission.

Misleading omissions are unfair commercial practices and the e-commerce operator can be fined up to 4% of its turnover in the EU Member States concerned.

Footnotes

1. Directive 2005/29/EC ‘Unfair Commercial Practices Directive’

2. Directive 2001/31/EC ‘Directive on electronic commerce’

3. Directive 98/6/EC “Indication of prices offered to consumers”

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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