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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

UOKiK: Zalando, Booking and Travelist with allegations of violating the collective interests of consumers

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Despite being requested by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, three entrepreneurs did not introduce any changes in communicating information to consumers nor did they express any intention to implement them, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection said in a statement. Zalando, Booking and Travelist were charged with violating the collective interests of consumers, which is punishable by a fine of up to 10 percent of turnover. Zalando and Travelist answered our questions.

As the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection recalled in a statement, from January 1 this year. the provisions arising from the EU Omnibus Directive impose new information obligations on entrepreneurs operating on the Internet, e.g. providing a telephone number, informing whether and how they verify the opinions provided, and in the case of trading platforms – indicating whether a given offer comes from the entrepreneur or from a natural person who is not entrepreneur.

Consumers may have been deprived of access to important information

The Office informed that monitoring of online platforms was carried out to check the correctness of practices related to extended information obligations. In 19 cases, violations were found and entrepreneurs were called upon to provide explanations and change the questioned practices. Despite the request from the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, three entrepreneurs: Zalando, Booking and Travelist did not introduce any changes in communicating information to consumers nor did they express any intention to implement them – it was reported. “The President of the Office, Tomasz Chróstny, brought charges against the companies Zalando, Booking and Travelist of violating the collective interests of consumers, which is punishable by a fine of up to 10% of turnover,” it was indicated. It was noted that customers of these platforms may not have been clearly informed whether the presented offer comes from an entrepreneur or a natural person who is not an entrepreneur, and what the division of responsibilities is between the platform and sellers or service providers, which may have made it difficult for consumers to take action, e.g. in the event of a complaint. “Consumers may have been deprived of access to important information and, as a result, the ability to consciously conclude transactions on clear and transparent terms,” ​​it was stated.

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Declaration of introducing modifications

President Tomasz Chróstny, quoted in the Office’s announcement, emphasized that properly implemented information obligations provide greater protection for consumers using e-commerce. He pointed out that consumers should have easy access to information about whether the entities with which they conclude contracts are entrepreneurs or natural persons. not conducting business activity. “Even their rights depend on this. If they do not conclude a contract with an entrepreneur, they are not protected by consumer law and are not subject to the privileges arising from it. For example, they will not have a statutory possibility of withdrawing from a distance contract,” Chróstny said. As added, most entrepreneurs have changed their activities or declared modifications after the intervention of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. These included: Glovo, Uber Eats, Pyszne.pl, Wolt, Bolt Food, Aliexpress, Wakacje.pl, FREE NOW, Uber, Bolt, Facebook, Morele.net, Empik, Triverna.pl, Amazon and Allegro.

Company comments

Aleksandra Adrian, Zalando’s spokeswoman, in response to TVN24 Biznes’s questions, said that in connection with the reservations presented by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, “we would like to emphasize our commitment to building transparency and consumer trust.”

“We confirm that we have received a request from the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection to introduce changes to our practices, including a clear indication of whether a seller on Zalando operates as a company or a private person. We are currently in the process of agreeing with the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection our proposal to introduce changes and will soon start the process of introducing them. implementation,” she emphasized.

She added that “only entrepreneurs sell on Zalando. To ensure full transparency, we are taking steps to make this information even more clear to our customers.”

Agata Szulc, president of the management board of Travelist, also commented on the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection’s announcement. In response to questions from TVN24 Biznes, she emphasized that “we treat all signals from the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection with particular care in order to best adapt to the applicable requirements.”

“We have been in constant contact with the Office’s representatives, and for several months we have been consistently ensuring the implementation of appropriate changes. To date, our team has introduced a number of modifications to the website in response to the guidelines of the EU Omnibus Directive and the position of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. Since the beginning of the year, we have introduced, among other things, information on the parameters determining the order of offers presented on the website, or on how to verify guests’ opinions about the facilities. We also made sure that the contact telephone number of our Customer Service Office is clearly visible on the website,” she said.

She said that “the latest changes regarding extended information obligations were implemented by us in August this year.”

“Then a new section was placed on the page of each offer and in the basket, i.e. at the last stage before making the payment. This section presents both the entrepreneur offering a specific stay service and the division of responsibilities between Travelist.pl and the entrepreneur. Appropriate provisions have been introduced also in the Regulations, which can now also be downloaded as a PDF file. The above-mentioned changes were implemented by August 25, 2023,” she noted.

She noted that, taking into account the above, “we were surprised by the information that circulated in the media.” “At the same time, we would like to emphasize that we will continue cooperation with the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, which will allow us to best protect the interests of our clients, including the proper implementation of the information obligation in the e-commerce space – in line with the Omnibus directive and understandable to the consumer,” she said in correspondence with TVN24 Biznes.

We also tried to contact the Booking platform. By the time the article was published, we had not received answers to our questions.

Read also: UOKiK: we suspect that entrepreneurs may participate in the agreement

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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