The Hungarian customer protection authority has announced that e-shops will continue to be the primarily target of their inspections. Indeed, the experiences this year showed that 88% of the e-shops inspected infringed the mandatory consumer protection rules in Hungary. In this short article we summarize what are the most frequent infringements and what are their consequences.
It seems obvious to inform your buyer about your basic identification data, especially about your address and other contact details. Yet, several e-shop owners forget to publish these data on their webpage.
This can be particularly problematic when you operate an online shop as a foreign company and your webpage is registered under a .hu domain. Consumer complaint may be more difficult with foreign company, so it is not only mandatory but also fair to inform your buyer that there is a foreign company behind the .hu domain.
No transparent prices
Another frequent mistake is that the purchase price is not transparent, that can mislead online shoppers.
For example the indication of Value Added Tax is missing, so the buyer thinks that you indicated the gross price, and the surprise comes when he receives the invoice with an amount majored with 27%. Do you think that after such a nice surprise he is going to buy again in your in e-shop?
It happens frequently too, that e-shops forget to inform their buyers about the delivery costs, whether it is included in the price or not. You should not make this mistake if you want happy customers, should you?
No information on cancellation
Based on the survey of the consumer protection authority 41 % of the online shops failed to properly inform the consumers about their right to cancel the contract. The relevant consumer protection laws clearly set forth the conditions of the right of withdrawal which are mandatory, so the seller cannot differ from them to the detriment of the consumer.
Despite this, some of the e-shops do not inform their buyers about their right to cancel the contract at all, while others clearly mislead the consumers. For example, a very common mistake is that online shop owners declare that it is not possible to request back the purchase price, only to request replacement of the product.
Other frequent problems are that e-shop owners do not inform the customers about their warranty and guarantee rights and about the complaint handling procedure.
What are the sanctions?
As mentioned 88% of the examined online shops have infringed the consumer protection rules but the authority has imposed fines only in 14 % of the cases.
This is because in the case of the first infringement (in case of small and medium enterprises) the authority does not impose fine but calls the e-shop to correct the mistakes within a 30 days deadline.
In case the e-shop owner does not comply with the consumer protection rule within the said deadline or repeatedly infringes these rules, the consumer protection authority will impose fines up to 2 Million Forints in case of SME's or even more of the infringement caused serious harm to the wide range of consumers.
What is worse than fine?
You might think that there is nothing worse than a huge fine, but in fact, there is: the Hungarian government operates a website (http://jogsertowebaruhazak.kormany.hu/) where e-shops infringing consumer protection rules are blacklisted.
I don't think that I need to explain you the damage to your reputation if your e-shop is published on the above blacklist. Although, the government also puts on the webpage the fact the online shop has corrected the mistake, it is little bit like a broken bone, it will never be the same again.
To summarize the above, we propose to review your terms and conditions before the consumer protection authority makes a trial purchase in your online shop to avoid the bad listing and the fines.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.