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Trade / E-commerce

Misleading promotions, false opinions, improper canvassing: tougher penalties

Publié le 02 juin 2022 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Crédits : © Andrey Popov - stock.adobe.com

Since May 28, 2022, the European directive has Omnibus has entered into force. Transposed into French law, the directive tightens penalties for misleading promotions, false notices and abusive door-to-door selling. The aim is to strengthen consumer protection.

The EU directive, whose rules came into force on May 28, 2022, addresses three business practices: door-to-door selling, online reviews, and promotions.

This directive was transposed into French law by the enabling law "DDADUE" of 3 December 2020 and Order No. 2021-1734 of 22 December 2021. It imposes harsher penalties for misleading promotions, false notices and abusive door-to-door selling in order to improve consumer protection, particularly for those who use digital platforms or marketplaces.

Doorstep selling: the need for an agreement

Unsolicited visits by a trader wishing to sell a product or provide a service to a consumer are now prohibited where the consumer has indicated "clearly and unambiguously" that he does not wish to be bothered.

Sellers who fail to comply with this new provision may be sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of €150,000.

Forged opinions prohibited

The commercial practice of issuing false opinions on the internet or altering real opinions is now deemed to be unfair.

This European directive thus requires the seller to check the reliability of the notice in question. The trader will therefore have to verify and guarantee that the consumer giving his opinion has actually purchased his product or used his service.

Professionals face two years in prison and a €300,000 fine for violating this provision.

More regulated price reductions

Since the aim of the European Directive is to protect consumers, false Promotions are now prohibited. The seller must therefore indicate the price of the product before applying a discount. This previous price shown must be the lowest price charged by the seller in the last 30 days prior to the discount. In the case of successive price reductions, the previous price displayed shall be that applied before the first reduction was applied. This measure applies to all price reduction advertisements, whether they are made online or in stores.

This unfair commercial practice can be punished with two years in prison and a €300,000 fine.

The DGCCRF will monitor compliance with these new rules, particularly during price reduction operations such as sales or “Black Friday”.

  Please note : This provision does not apply to "perishable products threatened with rapid alteration".

Heavier fines

The Ordinance and the Directive impose more severe penalties for the use of unfair terms which create an imbalance between the consumer and the trader.

Thus, the maximum amount of a fine for this type of case is:

  • € 15 000 for a natural person (instead of € 3 000);
  • € 75 000 for a legal person (instead of € 15 000).

In addition, where the infringement found is said to be "large or widespread at EU level", the fine may be up to 4% of the average annual turnover of the business (calculated on the last three known annual turnover figures).

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