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Better application of EU guarantees in online shopping of electronics

01-06-2015

The European Commission today announces the results of enforcement actions undertaken to make EU legal and commercial guarantees work better for consumers. The Commission coordinated a screening done by national consumer authorities of how websites selling mobile phones, computers, cameras or TVs are applying the EU legislation on guarantees. 235 out of the 437 websites checked did not sufficiently inform consumers on their free of charge right to get defective goods repaired or replaced within at least 2 years of purchase. As a result of national enforcement actions, 82% of the websites checked are now informing consumers sufficiently and authorities continue to work on the remaining 18% to ensure that guarantee rights are fully respected across the EU.

VÄ›ra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, welcomed the result: "Mobile phones, computers, cameras or TVs are some of the most popular goods bought online. We can expect competitive cross-border offers to steadily increase in the Digital Single Market. That's why I want consumers to be confident and well informed about their EU guarantee rights. I am glad that the joint efforts of Member States and the Commission ensure that 82% of the websites which were checked for selling such goods now comply with the law."

Screenings of websites (also known as "online sweeps") are regularly coordinated by the European Commission and carried out by national consumer enforcement authorities, to identify breaches of consumer law and to subsequently bring companies into compliance. The 'sweep' on legal and commercial guarantees in the electronic goods sector took place in 26 EU Member States (Austria and Poland didn't participate), Norway and Iceland. This was the 8th sweep since 2007.

In autumn 2014, consumer protection authorities checked in total 437 websites selling consumer electronics. Websites were primarily selected on the basis of their popularity, but also on the basis of consumer complaints received. National authorities checked whether online sellers of consumer electronic goods adequately informed consumers about the free of charge statutory guarantee as well as, when applicable, on commercial guarantees. Enforcers also checked whether websites provided email addresses to which questions and complaints could be submitted, and whether the websites made terms and conditions available before the purchase.

The main problems found were:

  • A lack of a reminder of the existence of the legal guarantee of conformity for goods was found in 174 websites.
  • Misleading presentation of commercial guarantees was found in 87 websites, in relation to their duration, territorial scope, name and address of the guarantor.
  • In 76 websites it was not clearly stated that the consumer's rights are not affected by the commercial guarantee.
  • 52 websites contained incomplete or misleading information about the trader’s name, geographical or email addresses.

The authorities contacted the companies found to be non-compliant with EU consumer law to ensure that the websites provided consumers with all the required information. As a result, 157 websites have already been updated and corrected and 78 websites are still subject to on-going enforcement actions.

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