Consumer Protection: 43% of websites in breach of EU rules during Black Friday

Today, the European Commission and 13 national consumer protection authorities released the results of a website screening (sweep), aimed at verifying how price reductions were presented on Black Friday 2022. The screening showed that more than half of the products monitored presented a price reduction announcement for Black Friday, and out of this number, 23% were clearly inconsistent with EU law. The Price Indication Directive provides that shops, including online marketplaces, must indicate the lowest price applied to the product in the preceding 30 days when announcing a discount. The sweep showed violations in at least 43% of the screened websites. National authorities monitored the prices of 16,000 products from 176 websites over a period of one month.

It is now up to the authorities to contact the traders concerned to request changes in their practices and, if necessary, initiate enforcement actions, which could ultimately lead to fines, if the practices are not corrected. The European Commission provided the AI-based tool to automatically detect misleading discounts in the context of the EU eLab, a project aimed at developing and applying advanced digital technologies to online consumer investigations in support of the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) network.

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “Today’s results show that consumers continue to be exposed to a large number of untruthful discounts and unfair commercial practices. This is a breach of EU law. We call on all online retailers to fully respect the rules, and revise their discounts presentation. Good deals must be a real advantage and not a manipulative marketing technique; they should always be based on a concrete price difference”.

More information on this and previous Consumer Protection Network sweeps can be found here.