Examples of coordinated positions and actions under the current CPC regulation
Following the Dieselgate scandal, the CPC authorities sent a letter to the Volkswagen Group, on 7 September 2017, urging the group swiftly repair all affected cars. In December 2017, Volkswagen committed to continue to offer free-of-charge repairs in 2018.
As more and more consumers were targeted by fraud and scams through social media, a Joint CPC action was launched to get the main social media operators (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) to bring their terms of service into conformity with European consumer law; and to create a "notice and action" procedure for CPC Authorities to report and request the removal of online illegal content.
On 26 September 2017, the Commission adopted an interpretative notice that provides concrete guidance to competent national enforcement authorities on how to apply the existing EU food and consumer protection legislation to potential cases of dual quality food. Furthermore, specific funding was offered to the Joint Research Centre (JRC) to develop and implement a harmonised testing protocol in order to gather scientific and comparable evidence regarding the scope and dimension of the issue, and to Member States to develop enforcement capacities under the Consumer Programme. In the New Deal for Consumers the Commission has proposed to update Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in order to make explicit that national authorities can assess and address misleading commercial practices involving the marketing of products as being identical in several EU countries, if their composition or characteristics are significantly different.
In January 2017, the CPC-network published commitments made by the five major car rental companies. The companies committed to pricing transparency and clearer terms and conditions, including clarity on insurance and waiver policies and tank refuelling options, and more fairness when handling alleged instances of damage to vehicles.
The CPC network asked the Internet platform providers Apple and Google as well as the association of online game developers, ISFE, to propose solutions to identified problems regarding in-app purchases in online games such as: misleading advertising of games as "free"; direct exhortation to children; issues around purchase information and consent; and failure to provide trader's contact details.
A "sweep" is a set of checks carried out on websites simultaneously by national enforcement authorities to identify breaches of EU consumer law in a particular sector.
The sweeps operate in in a two-step action process, comprising of
- screening websites to identify breaches of consumer law in a given online market
- enforcement in which national authorities ask traders to take corrective actions
Sweeps are coordinated by the European Commission and carried out simultaneously by national enforcement authorities in participating countries. Sweeps were conducted in the following areas: websites selling air tickets (2007); ring tones for mobile phones (2008); electronic goods (2009); tickets for cultural and sports events (2010); consumer credit (2011); digital content (2012); travel services (2013); guarantees in consumer electronics (2014); Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU (2015); comparison tools in the travel sector (2016); and telecommunication and other digital services (2017).
Examples of sweeps
2017 / 2018 - Telecommunication and other digital services (ongoing)
Among services markets, the ‘telecom’ sector caused the highest overall consumer detriment and displayed by far the highest proportion of consumers having experienced problems in the EU Consumer Markets Scoreboard – Edition 2016. The 2017 Sweep examined whether sufficient information was provided concerning the service provider, the main characteristics of the product or service, the price, the contract performance, and the terms and conditions of use.
The sweep field work was carried out between 1 and 30 November and screened 207 websites. The results show that many of these websites do not provide clear information on handling complaints.
- in 78,7% of cases, the website did not provide a link to the ODR platform;
- in 40.6% of the websites, there was no description of a dispute resolution system;
- 31.9% of the websites took the liberty of unilaterally changing the terms of the contract or the service characteristics unbeknown to the consumer and without allowing the consumer to cancel the contract under reasonable notice;
- 25,1% of the websites did not provide clear or truthful information about subsequent compensation and refund arrangements when the contracted service quality levels are not met;
- 21,7% did not provide clear and comprehensive information on the automatic contract renewal.
For more information: results_of_2017_-_telecommunication_sweep.pdf
352 price comparison and travel booking websites across the EU were screened in October 2016. It was found that prices were not reliable on 235 websites, two thirds of the sites checked. For example, additional price elements were added at a late stage of the booking process without clearly informing the consumer or promotional prices did not correspond to any available service.
2015 – Pre-contractual information required by Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU
The sweep in 2015 focused on the quality of information available to consumers online before a purchase, the so-called pre-contractual information required by the Consumer Rights Directive. In total, authorities in EU countries checked 743 websites. Irregularities were confirmed in 436 cases (63%). 353 out of 436 websites have been corrected during the enforcement phase.
2014 – Guarantee of consumer electronics
The sweep in 2014 focussed on Legal and Commercial Guarantees in the Electronic Goods Sector. It took place in 26 EU Member States, plus Norway and Iceland in October 2014. National consumer protection authorities screened how websites selling mobile phones, computers, cameras, or TVs comply with 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 were later brought into compliance.