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Amazon, Veepee… Complaint of the UFC-What to choose for “misleading commercial practice”

The consumer association denounces the practices of eight sites which “trick” consumers by dangling “false promotions”.

By Valentin Dechambre for Le Point

The consumer association seizes the European Commission to alert it to the excesses of professionals, and ask it to act. (Illustrative photo).

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De false promotions in the viewfinder of UFC-Que Choisir. The consumer association will file a complaint against eight e-commerce sites for misleading commercial practices. Amazon, ASOS, Cdiscount, E.Leclerc, La Redoute, Rue du Commerce, Veepee and Zalando are directly targeted. According to UFC-Que Choisir, only 3.4% of ads with a crossed out price correspond to real promotions operated by sellers, in accordance with the “Omnibus” directive.

Adopted in November 2019 by the European Parliament and the European Council, this European law has been implemented since last year in all the States of the European Union to better regulate certain commercial practices. In France, the directive was transposed by an order in December 2021. Among the measures to combat excessive price reduction announcements, calculated from inflated reference prices, traders must display the reference price from which the reduction is calculated. This must correspond to “the lowest price charged by the professional to all consumers over the last thirty days”, according to the order of December 23, 2021.

Misleading promotions

To circumvent the regulations, professionals in the sector rely on new strategies: 96.6% of promotions are based on the concept of so-called “comparison” price. Thus, they freely choose a reference price with which to compare their product, so as to present their offer as a bargain not to be missed with rather vague mentions such as “recommended retail price”, “at origin” or even ” old price “. According to the consumer association, genuine promotions complying with the “Omnibus” regulations show an average reduction of 6% against 26.5% for non-regulated references.

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Another element denounced by the UFC-Que Choisir: the vagueness which reigns between an announcement of price reduction in accordance with the regulations, and an announcement which is not. Both adopt exactly the same presentation, whether in terms of content or format (size, color, font, etc.). The great similarity of these ads misleads consumers, leading them to consider these crossed out prices as price reductions in accordance with the regulations, and not as a simple comparison.

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