Consumer protection"Sweep" reveals misleading practices when buying telecom services online

Today, the European Commission together with national consumer protection authorities published their results of an EU-wide “Sweep”, that is a series of online checks conducted simultaneously by different authorities across EU-countries. This screening of 207 websites, which offer services with respect to landline and mobile communications, internet, audio and video streaming, revealed that 163 of them could be infringing EU consumer law.

These are the most common issues:

  • In half the cases, the website advertised allegedly free or discounted packages of services that actually presented only a service offered in a bundled package.

  • The majority of websites (78,7 percent) did not provide a link to the Online Dispute Resolution platform. In 40,6 percent of the websites, there was no description of a dispute resolution system.

  • About one third of the websites can unilaterally change their terms of the contract or the service characteristics without informing or giving justification to the consumer and without allowing the consumer to cancel the contract.

  • 25,1 percent of the websites did not provide clear or truthful information about compensation and refund arrangements in case the offered service is not adequate. Moreover, 21,7 percent did not provide clear and comprehensive information on the automatic contract renewal.

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, noted: "Consumers use their mobile phone or internet subscriptions every day and should be able to trust these services. This screening confirms, however, that a number of websites selling such services are misleading consumers by advertising fake discounts or not providing the full information necessary to make an informed choice. I expect the false and misleading information to be corrected as soon as possible to ensure the sector fully respects EU consumer rules."

Source: European Commission

More information