2 June 2015
Many European online stores selling electronic products fail to provide sufficient information about liability to rectify defective products.
In the autumn of 2014, EU consumer protection authorities inspected a total of 437 online websites selling electronic products such as mobile phones, computers, cameras and televisions. From Finland, the Consumer Ombudsman participated in the campaign.
The aim of the campaign was to investigate whether online stores tell customers clearly about statutory liability to rectify defective products under which the vendor is responsible for faults in a product regardless of whether or not the product has a warranty. At the same time, attention was focused on whether consumers were enticed into purchasing an extra warranty that is subject to payment. The authorities also inspected whether websites provided an email address to which customers can send any queries or complaints.
Inadequacies were found in over half (54%) the websites inspected. Some of the online stores failed to tell customers anything about statutory their liability to rectify defective products. Others provided misleading information about extra warranties that were subject to payment.
Consumers should consider whether extra product insurance that is subject to payment offers any additional value to statutory rights. At the same time, customers should check whether the online store provides details on how to contact them and, with respect to warranties, whether the information on duration and coverage is sufficient. If any problems arise from a product purchased from another EU country, the consumer may contact the European Consumer Centre Finland.
The authorities have contacted those companies with websites in which inadequacies were found and required that they amend the information to comply with the law. So far, 155 online sites have been amended. Measures in respect of 80 websites are still in progress.
The network of authorities enforcing EU consumer protection has organised a so-called "sweep day" since 2007. During previous years, online sales of airline tickets as well as cultural and sporting events have been inspected.
See the European Commission's website for more information