Brussels, 16 September 2010
Consumers: Most internet sites now safe to buy electronic goods.
Buying popular electronic goods like digital cameras and music players on the internet is now much safer following a crackdown on problematic websites. 84% of the websites selling electronics, checked for breach of EU consumer rules, now comply with EU law (compared with only 44% in 2009). The "sweep" investigation was launched in May 2009 and carried out by national authorities in 26 member states, Norway and Iceland. The problems identified included misleading information on consumer rights, incorrect prices and missing contact details of the trader (IP/09/1292). These sites have now been corrected and penalties have been imposed where necessary. The Commission also announced the initial findings of the 2010 Sweep targeting online sales of tickets for cultural and sporting events.
EU Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli said: "The sweeps are all about making sure that EU laws benefiting consumers are enforced with vigour, to deliver transparent pricing and truthful information. Today's results show that the sweeps are working. The boost to consumer confidence which they can generate will also benefit reputable businesses. We are determined to continue these joint enforcement actions and already have the next problem sector in our sights".
A "sweep" is an enforcement action led by the EU and carried out by national enforcement authorities. Member States carry out simultaneous, coordinated checks for breaches in consumer law in a particular sector. They contact operators about suspected irregularities and ask them to take corrective action.
The electronic goods sweep took place in May 2009. Enforcement authorities across Europe checked websites selling electronic goods for compliance with EU consumer law. Six popular product categories were selected for the check, including e.g. personal music players, digital cameras and mobile phones. Since then, national authorities have followed up on the problematic sites, requesting corrections and imposing sanctions when necessary.
Electronics sweep results
Overall, of 369 websites originally checked, 310 sites (84%) now comply with EU-wide consumer rules, compared with only 163 sites (44%) in May 2009. Sanctions for confirmed breaches included fines and closure of websites.
In terms of the main problems which were identified initially:
What happens next?
National authorities will continue to work on the outstanding cases. For cross-border cases, they are in contact with their counterparts in other countries. The new system of EU-wide sweep investigations will continue, with new sweeps and joint actions planned for next year.
See also MEMO/10/417
The new sweep: ticketing sites
The latest sweep is now investigating online sales of tickets for cultural and sporting events. 414 sites have been checked, 167 (40%) were compliant, but 247 (60%) were flagged for further investigation for breach of consumer rules. National authorities are now in the enforcement phase when they contact the traders concerned and ask them to clarify their position or correct the problems identified.
The main problem areas were:
See also MEMO/10/418
To find out more: Sweeps website
Including Mock web pages with examples of good/bad practice