consumer rights directive

In a recent request for a preliminary ruling in a case concerning Amazon, the Advocate General Pitruzzella (AG) has given his opinion that the Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU) (CRD) requires traders to offer their consumers a choice of means of communication, but this is not confined to the trader’s telephone number. The CRD includes the trader’s telephone number, fax number and e-mail address, “where available, to enable the consumer to contact the trader quickly and communicate with him efficiently”. The AG clarified that this is therefore not limited to a telephone number, and accordingly traders may use other means of communication with consumers as long as they are consistent with the technical means of the transaction being made.

Online trades imply sufficient knowledge of interacting over the internet

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband) brought a claim asserting that Amazon did not offer sufficient contact channels to its consumers before the conclusion of an online sale – in spite of the online sales platform’s automated call-back facility and online chat service. There was a particular concern that consumers were not provided with the company’s fax number and were also prompted to follow an identity-verification process before they could have access to Amazon’s general helpline telephone number.

Continue Reading Must online traders provide consumers with a contact telephone number? Advocate General says no…t necessarily

In a judgment of 17 May 2018, case no. 6 U 3815/17 (“Judgment”), the Court of Appeal Munich (Oberlandesgericht München – “Court of Appeal”) held that online retailers are required to indicate a precise delivery time on their website where consumers purchase products. A ‘coming soon’ notice is insufficient, even where the relevant product has not yet been released. The Judgment was published on 9 July 2018 by the German consumer protection association Verbraucherzentrale Nordrhein-Westfalen, which had initiated the court proceedings (“Plaintiff”). The Plaintiff’s accompanying press release of 9 July 2018 can be found here (in the German language).

Background

In 2016, the Plaintiff initiated court proceedings against a major German online retailer (“Defendant”). The Defendant had offered on its website to customers a new smartphone that had not yet been released by the manufacturer, placing the following notice on its website: “The item will be available soon. Secure your device now!” (Original German wording: “Der Artikel ist bald verfügbar. Sichern Sie sich jetzt Ihr Exemplar!”).

In its first instance judgment of 17 October 2017, case no. 33 O 20488/16 (“First Instance Judgment”), the District Court Munich I (Landgericht München I) held that the Defendant was in breach of its statutory information obligations on distance selling contracts under the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch“BGB”).

Continue Reading German court rules that online retailers must specify the delivery date even for ‘coming soon’ B2C pre-release orders