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2023 - the year of legal changes in e-commerce

From January 1st, the e-commerce sector in European Union is obliged to prepare for various changes regarding the digital content, sale of goods, and omnibus directive. See what changes concern you.

The changes apply to the manner of presenting opinions, changes in informing about discounts, and the rules of managing complaints.

One of the most important issues is also the introduction of changes in the regulations of online stores.

All the rules contained in the directives will be crucial in terms of consumer protection.

So, what are the biggest changes for sellers and customers in the new year?

Price reduction information

One of the most important changes introduced by the Omnibus Directive is the method of informing consumers about promotions in online stores. The price reduction for a given product or service is strictly defined. 

To reduce the price, the seller must show the lowest applicable price for a given good in the last 30 days before the discount. This obligation applies to both the online store and the stationary store.

In the case of products with a short shelf life, in addition to the promotional price, there should also be information about the price before the first discount. What is worth mentioning, this rule does not apply when a seller plans to change the price of a given product, but does not imply a discount, e.g., seasonal, advertising slogans such as "best price" and discount codes, loyalty programs, and other personalized price reductions for some users.

Verifying reviews in e-stores

An important change in the Omnibus Directive is the verification by the sellers of the opinions appearing on the website of their online store. 

If sellers allow for issuing an opinion, they are obliged to inform whether it comes from a reliable source, i.e., from a real customer - the one who made a purchase.

It will be the responsibility of the entrepreneur to inform about the verification of a given opinion and the method of this verification.

Even if local law does not imply the way of how to check the reliability of an opinion, the directive states that the seller should take proportionate and reasonable steps to check whether the opinion actually comes from a consumer who made a purchase in this store.

Making and management of complaints

The directive on selling goods precisely defines new rules concerning consumer complaints, which also includes traders with consumer rights. Those privileged entrepreneurs will be subject to the Consumer Rights Act, and not to the provisions of the Civil Code, as it was until now.

A product or service purchased after January 1st 2023, will be subject to new regulations regarding complaints. The word "defect" disappears from the Act and is replaced by "goods non-compliant with the contract", the term "warranty" has also been removed as it changes its naming.

The directive on goods sales introduces a new hierarchy of complaints. Before, consumers could have decided whether they want to exchange a good for a new one or request a refund of costs. 

Pursuant to the new regulations, withdrawal from the contract or reduction of the price of the product/service will be possible if the replacement or repair of the goods is impossible or unprofitable, and if the defect still occurs despite its repair.

The time of pursuing claims from an entrepreneur is also extended - it will be 6 years. The issue of covering the shipping costs of the advertised product, which is to be done by the seller, has also been regulated.

Complaints of digital content

Since January 1st 2023, the digital directive introduces the complaints concerning digital content, such as graphics, e-books, audiobooks, which are sent, for example, as a file sent to e-mail address.

The change in the law also forces changes in the regulations of online stores. The consumer will have the right to file a complaint if the digital content is inconsistent with the contract or has not been delivered at a convenient time. In such a situation, the seller will be obliged to adjust the digital content free of charge in accordance with the concluded contract, reduce the price of the product, or reimburse the incurred costs.

Under the new directive, the customer has 2 years to file a complaint. Similarly, if a consumer pays for the purchased content with personal data - then this person also has the right to file a complaint if the content provided does not comply with the contract.

Updating the regulations in online stores

The new rules require entrepreneurs to make changes to the regulations posted on the store's website.

In accordance with them, the seller will be obliged to include the contact phone number and e-mail address in the documents, update with new provisions regarding complaints, and add information on the rules of complaints related to digital content.

The regulations will also need to be updated in terms of changes to the sale of goods directive. Their scope will include updating the rights of consumers and traders with consumer rights, the content of the documents must also include references to the appropriate legal basis, rules for returning the advertised goods, and costs incurred, as well as a change in vocabulary or nomenclature.

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