An end to unfair practices on websites. The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) imposed high fines on companies that used them and pretended to be e-shops. According to officials, there was no clear information that the consumer was buying the product from an intermediary.
The mechanism of persuading customers to make quick purchases was not too complicated, but it was misleading. The company offered a wide range of women’s fashion on its websites. Consumers’ attention was attracted by fake counters on products that counted down the hours until the end of the discount. And each day they started the countdown again. In this way, they started counting down the time for the next supposedly special offer. But that’s not the end.
Penalty from the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. The company did not inform that it was a sales intermediary
According to officials, the websites of the parties were presented as online clothing stores, although they were largely limited to intermediating orders. They operated in the dropshipping model. However, there was no clear information on the websites that the consumer was buying from an intermediary. Customers learned about this fact only when they wanted to withdraw from the contract, which significantly complicated the whole matter. The purchased goods had to be sent at their own expense to the manufacturer, which was usually based in Asia.
The case was taken up by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, which began to receive numerous complaints about unfair practices used on websites, first bigotka.pl and later arkadie.pl. For such actions, Tomasz Chróstny, the president of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, imposed over PLN 100,000. PLN fine for the intermediary, i.e. Bak Drop. The office also ordered the company to immediately stop using unfair practices.
The antitrust office paid attention to several aspects when assessing this case. Firstly, there was no clear information on the websites that the customer was buying from an intermediary. Secondly, according to the inspectors, customers were encouraged to make quick purchases by the counter, which encouraged them to take advantage of the same offers every day.
The company used sales social engineering
According to the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, such a procedure gave the impression that the reduction would be short and significantly limited in time. “The time pressure forced consumers to make quick, ill-considered purchase decisions. These are typical examples of activities using social engineering and knowledge about user behavior to influence their choices and manipulate the decision-making process. – we read in the office’s announcement.
– Consumers using e-commerce must have full and easy access to information – says Tomasz Chróstny, president of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. – Deliberately concealing that the entrepreneur does not run an online store and only provides intermediation services is an unfair market practice. – he adds.
In his opinion, reliable information about the actual nature of the offer or the type of contract concluded would allow consumers to make their own decisions based on the facts, rather than those suggested by the entrepreneur. – They could consciously join it or give it up and choose to shop in other stores – says the head of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.