Joint action of the EU Member States and the European Commission have brought 116 websites selling digital games, books, videos and music in line with the EU consumer legislation. Beforehand the providers were admonished when information on the key characteristics of the products was not easily accessible, in "small print" or in case contact information or fair terms and conditions were missing.
This improved protection is the outcome of a so-called "sweep" - an EU-wide screening of websites to identify breaches of consumer law and to subsequently ensure its enforcement. The enforcement took place last year and represents the sixth “sweep” since 2007. The national authorities checked 330 websites in total and found 172 websites to be non-compliant with EU consumer law. After contacting the affected companies, to date 116 websites have been corrected. The overall result of the intervention by the enforcement authorities in the EU Member States is that 80% of the 330 websites are now in line with EU consumer legislation.
In addition to “sweeps”, the European Commission commissioned a complementary study that revealed that no or limited information was provided about geographical restrictions that might apply. Such information is essential to consumers travelling to other EU countries who normally expect to be able to access and use their digital content without obstacles throughout the Single Market. Moreover the study also revealed that games advertised as "free" often required some payment at a later stage without this being clearly explained up-front. Such practices are often directly targeted at children, the most vulnerable consumer group.
Mr Neven Mimica, the European Commissioner for Consumer Policy, said: "Enforcement of consumer rights is a priority for me including in the rapidly changing digital environment. I am pleased that this sweep addressed some of the most important issues related to digital content downloads. A year ago over 50% of the websites were not compliant, which is unacceptable. This figure is now down to 20%, and further results are expected. This is great progress but I will continue to fight for improvements."
Complementary study: Study on Digital Content Products in the EU http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/enforcement/sweep/digital_content/docs/dcs_complementary_study_en.pdf
Source: European Commission