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European Commission


Brussels, 14 October 2013

Questions & answers – Sweep on on-line games, books, videos and music

What has happened since December 2012?

Last December we announced the initial results of the sweep (IP/12/
1320). These found that over half of the websites investigated caused concern and were potentially in breach of EU rules. Since December we have been in the so-called enforcement phase of the sweep. Member States authorities have sought to bring the websites into line either through co-operation or, where necessary, legal action

Where do we now stand?

In December 2012, 250 of the 330 websites checked raised concerns over their compliance with EU Consumer rights legislation. A detailed examination revealed that 172 sites were in breach of the rules protection consumers. National enforcement authorities contacted the companies concerned to ensure that the websites offered consumers all the necessary information, advice and warnings. As a result 116 websites have been updated and corrected. 49 websites are subject to further proceedings. In the remaining seven cases two of the websites no longer exist and in 5 cases the infringements were minor and not pursued by the Member States.

What happens next?

Currently national authorities are continuing their enforcement actions. The sweep and the parallel study have highlighted a number of issues which deserve closer attention, in particular how to ensure the most vulnerably, notably children, are protected. The European commission and a number of member states are exploring how best this can be achieved.

On what basis where the websites selected?

National authorities agreed on two main criteria for selecting websites: best-selling or most popular products in their country and/or sites for which they had received complaints. Common criteria for selecting websites targeting younger children included use of pink and cartoons. These websites were often national pages of cross border platforms or operators: about a quarter of the websites flagged for further investigation at the initial stage had a cross border dimension

What are the lessons for consumers?

First and foremost while shopping for digital content brings consumers many benefits there is still a need to be vigilant, informed and ensure that your rights are respected. If in any doubt, think twice about making the purchase.

Before and after buying digital content products online

  • Can you contact the trader in case there is a problem? Make sure that the trader provides his name, geographical and e-mail address.

  • Do you have all the information you need about how to run the download? Check that you are given sufficient information and minimum operating system requirements of the product such as size, quality and whether a device or particular software is needed in order to operate the digital content product.

  • How much is it really going to cost? Look out for the final price; including taxes and all charges that may be hidden in the last stages of the payment process.

  • Do you have a right of return? Be aware that once you have started downloading the product, you have usually no right to return it.

  • Are your rights being restricted? Beware of terms that exclude the trader from various liabilities and redress mechanisms including legal action; they are probably unfair.

  • Where can you use the digital content? Look for information whether you can use the digital content in another country than the one you live in. You may get a nasty surprise if you are travelling or on holiday. Contact the sales office for advice, if you do not find the information.

  • What is the real cost of the "free" kids game there might be add-ons requiring payment without you being warned about it beforehand.

In case of a problem with a trader in another Member State you can report it to your local European Consumer Centre

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