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E-Commerce: Information You Must Provide On Your Website When Selling to Consumers

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. whether or not to buy. This information must 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 characteristics of the product.
  • The geographic address and identity (trading name) of the trader. A trader is a person in the ‘business’ of selling i.e. they are selling for purposes relating to their business, trade, craft or profession.
  • The price inclusive of taxes, and also any additional freight, delivery or postal charges.
  • How payment, delivery and performance will be arranged.
  • Whether the right of withdrawal (right to cancel for any reason for up to 14 days from purchase) is applicable.
  • For products sold from an online marketplace, whether the seller is a trader or non-trader (amateur seller). The marketplace must also warn consumers that consumer protection law does not apply to sales from amateur sellers.
  • Where there is the possibility to search for products offered by different sellers, information on the main parameters (and their importance) that determine the ranking of search results.
  • Where there are customer reviews displayed on the website, information on how the e-commerce operator ensures that they are ‘genuine’ reviews from customers who have actually purchased or used the product.

Additionally, there are further information requirements for advertising or marketing of specific products, for example, travel, timeshare, consumer credit and insurance products. As well the e-commerce operator must provide information required by the ‘E-Commerce Directive’[2] and under the ‘Prices Offered to Consumers Directive.’[3]

If an e-commerce operator fails to provide the above information, or provides it in an unclear, ambiguous, unintelligible or untimely manner, then this is a misleading omission.  If, however, there are limitations in the space or time to provide the above information on the website or other e-commerce channel then 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 may be subject to a fine of up to 4% of their turnover in the applicable EU member states.

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[1] Directive 2005/29/EC ‘Unfair Commercial Practices Directive’

[2] Directive 2001/31/EC ‘E-Commerce Directive’

[3] Directive 98/6/EC ‘Indication of Prices offered to Consumers’

blank Kelly Logan

Founder and Managing Partner

kelly.logan@loganpartners.com

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