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Consumer Rights Directive

88% of websites compliant with consumer rules after EU-wide sweep

If you are a consumer buying online such products as fashion accessories, household appliances or electronic goods, you should pay extra attention before you click on "buy" as it may be difficult to exercise your consumer rights.

This is one of the lessons of the latest check carried out by the EU countries[1] coordinated by the European Commission.

Such checks, also known as "sweeps", are organised regularly to verify how EU consumer rules are applied in practice.

The latest "sweep" focused on the quality of the information that is available to consumers online before the purchase.

This aspect – so called "pre-contractual information" – is regulated by the Consumer Rights Directive.

Results in numbers

In total, the EU Member States' authorities checked 743 websites and it was the largest sweep conducted so far. Among these websites, there was a full spectrum of traders ranging from smaller players to big e-commerce platforms.

697 of the swept websites still existed in the enforcement phase.  Eventually irregularities were confirmed in 436 cases (63%).

Up to date, 353 out of 436 websites have been corrected. National administrative or legal proceedings continue for the 83 websites which are still not compliant.

Graph representing different swept websites

Main issues discovered

During the check, following issues have been identified:

* missing, unclear or incomprehensible information on the right of withdrawal from a transaction – in 63% of websites.

For example, websites did not contain a relevant withdrawal form while it was their legal obligation, or did not inform consumer about the exact number of days available to him/her to withdraw from an online transaction (14 days).

* incomplete or unclear details about the trader – in 34% of websites.

For example, websites did not give the address or full name of the trader.

* 21% of websites failed to provide consumers with a clear and prominent display of price or contract conditions before the order confirmation.

* unclear information on product or service characteristics - in 18% of websites.

This pattern of irregularities occurs across different sectors, multi-purpose or specialised retailers and type of contract (good, service, digital content).

Overall, among the websites of specialised retailers with confirmed irregularities, 29% were websites selling clothes, shoes and fashion accessories; 15 % electronic goods, household appliances; and 12% furnishing and home decoration.

[1] 28 (26 Member States, Norway and Iceland)

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