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Safer online shopping for electronic goods following EU-wide investigation
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16/09/2010 00:00:00

Buying digital cameras, music players and other popular electronic goods on the internet is now much safer following an EU-wide crackdown on problematic websites, the European Commission announced today.  Eighty four per cent of websites selling electronics now comply with EU consumer protection rules, compared to only forty four per cent in 2009. 

The announcement follows a "sweep" investigation launched in May 2009 which identified problems such as misleading information on consumer rights, incorrect prices and missing trader details ( IP/09/1292).

Of 369 websites originally checked by national authorities, 310 sites now comply with EU-wide consumer rules, compared with only 163 sites in May 2009.  UK authorities checked 14 sites.  Of the four that raised concerns in 2009, two sites are the subject of an ongoing case.

EU Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli said:

"The sweeps are all about making sure that EU laws benefiting consumers are enforced with vigour, to deliver transparent pricing and truthful information. Today's results show that the sweeps are working. The boost to consumer confidence which they can generate will also benefit reputable businesses. We are determined to continue these joint enforcement actions and already have the next problem sector in our sights".

The main problems identified were:

- contact details of the trader: 95% of the websites (82% in 2009) now provide the required trader details such as the name, address and e-mail.

- information about the total price: 94% of the websites now display clear, and accurate information about the total cost (including delivery charges and all other extra costs): compared with 75% in 2009;

- information about consumer rights: 86% of the websites now display clear and accurate information as required (eg on the right to return the product without giving a reason and on the legal guarantee period), up from 64%.

    What happens next?

    National authorities will continue to work on the outstanding cases and in cross-border cases will work with their counterparts in other countries.

    For more details of the sweep: MEMO/10/417.

    A new sweep announced: ticketing sites

    The latest sweep is now investigating online sales of tickets for cultural and sporting events. Some 414 sites have already been checked, 167 (40%) were compliant, but 247 (60%) were flagged for further investigation for breach of consumer rules.  

    The UK authorities have flagged 22 sites for further investigation.

    The main problems identified include: missing, incomplete or misleading information about the price (eg hidden taxes or handling charges) - 74%; unfair terms and conditions (eg ticket delivery was not guaranteed on time or a refund was excluded in the event of cancellation) - 73% and missing, incomplete or misleading information about the trader (eg the trader falsely claiming to be an authorised representative) - 48%.

    National authorities are now in the enforcement phase when they contact the traders concerned and ask them to clarify their position or correct the problems identified. See also MEMO/10/418.


    A "sweep" is an enforcement action led by the EU and carried out by national enforcement authorities. The member states carry out simultaneous, coordinated checks for breaches in consumer law in a particular sector, contacting operators about suspected irregularities and asking them to take corrective action.

    The electronic goods sweep took place in May 2009 and involved enforcement authorities in EU member states (except Slovakia), Norway and Iceland checking websites selling electronic goods for compliance with EU consumer law.

    Six popular product categories were chosen for investigation, including personal music players, digital cameras and mobile phones. Subsequently, national authorities have followed-up on the problematic sites, requesting corrections and imposing sanctions when necessary.

    Mock web pages with examples of good/bad practice can be seen at:

    Press contacts

    UK authority is the Office of Fair Trading

    Pritie Billimoria

    Tel: 020 7211 8708


    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.

    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

    Last update: 31/10/2010  |Top