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.