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Two weeks after the implementation of the Omnibus Directive

Amendments to the law came into force as of 1 January 2023, which aim to implement into Polish law three EU directives commonly referred to as the Omnibus Directive, the Directive on the sale of goods (2019/771), and the Digital Directive (2019/770). The purpose of the changes is to better protect consumers, in particular against unfair (fictitious) promotions of goods and services and false product reviews that do not come from actual purchasers. There are also being changed rules for consumer complaints about products, rules for the presentation of product search results, and rules for adjusting the price of products for the individual purchaser.

Without a doubt, the most widely commented on are the changes to the regulations aimed at counteracting unfair promotions, that is, artificially raising the prices of goods and services, which are then lowered as part of organised promotional and sales actions. This involves overpricing before the start of promotional events such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. According to the amended regulations, as of 1 January 2023, all online and stationary shops that announce a promotion or sale have to indicate, in addition to the current price – also the lowest price from the 30 days preceding the reduction.

Have the new rules eliminated unfair practices and have they actually improved the situation for consumers? Are traders adhering to the new price information rules? More than two weeks after the new rules came into force, the UOKiK (Office of Competition and Consumer Protection) has presented the preliminary conclusions of its inspections. The President of the UOKiK announced that he had requested explanations from around 40 entrepreneurs in the e-commerce sector and announces, together with the Trade Inspection, inspections in stationary shops regarding the application of the new regulations.

According to the published communication, the President of the UOKiK has concerns and objections to the following practices regarding the information on discounts:

  • calculating the size of the reduction with reference to the last or standard price of the good, rather than the lowest price of the last 30 days;
  • indicating the current sale price and the crossed-out price without stating what the crossed-out price is;
  • indicating the lowest price over a period of 30 days in the form of a hidden message that is only visible when expanded;
  • using wording other than “lowest price within 30 days before the discount” (e.g. “reference price”, “previous/last lowest price”) and presenting the lowest price information in an illegible manner.

The President of the UOKiK, in addition to inspecting the main (stationary) retail chains (Biedronka, Dino, Kaufland, Lidl, Netto, and Żabka) for the presentation of prices and promotions, also announces to inspect compliance with other obligations under the amended regulations, including making product and service reviews available and verifying them; informing about the rules that determine the order in which products appear in search results; disclosing which offers are paid to advertise or have received a higher placement as a result of a made payment; providing of telephone numbers by e-retailers for contact purposes.

#consumer rights #consumers #discounts #omnibus #promotions #uokik

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