Updated : 12/03/2014
Throughout the EU, sellers must indicate product prices clearly enough for you to easily compare similar products and make informed choices – no matter how they're packaged or how many units are sold together.
Companies are legally obliged to be absolutely clear about the price you'll have to pay when they advertise or sell something to you.
The price quoted in an offer must include all taxes and delivery charges. And if there might be extra costs that can't be calculated in advance, you must also be told that upfront.
Steven, from Scotland, found some very cheap flights to Spain on an airline website, but after he completed the online booking, the final price had doubled – including various surcharges that had not been mentioned at any stage of the booking process.
Steven contacted the customer service department and was told the initial price was merely indicative. However, a call to the Scottish consumer centre confirmed that although airlines are indeed entitled to charge extra for things like luggage or in-flight meals, these should be indicated right from the start (along with all other additional charges, taxes, etc.). Furthermore, those extra costs which are not optional, such as administrative or payment fees, should always be included in the initial price.
Following intervention by the consumer centre, the airline now indicates all price supplements in a clear, unambiguous way at the start of the booking process.
When something is advertised as "free", you cannot be obliged to pay anything other than the cost of:
You should also be able to compare prices, between brands and between package sizes – to see, for example, what saving you'll make buying a large-size family pack of breakfast cereal instead of a small box.
To help you do this, all products must be marked not only with the selling price, but also the price per unit – for example, the price per kilo or per litre. This information must be unambiguous, clearly legible, and easily identifiable.
This rule also applies to advertisements that mention a selling price.
Nadine lives in Belgium close to the German border and is the mother of 5 month old Clara. It didn't take her long to learn just how expensive nappies are, so she started looking at the prices for nappies in different shops both in Belgium and across the border in Germany.
She found a German seller offering packs of the same nappies for the same price. But looking more closely at the unit price, she realised the German packs contained 140 nappies, whereas the ones on sale in Belgium had only 90, making the latter significantly dearer. She switched straight away to buying all her nappies from the German shop.
Remember to check the unit price before making your purchase.
The following are examples of goods to which the unit pricing rules might not apply – because indicating a unit price might cause confusion, or because of the goods' particular nature or purpose:
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In this case, the 27 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway