Dynamic pricing policies, scarcity indications, nudging, social proof, dark patterns. There are many tactics out there to influence online buying behavior. Where to draw the line between permissible online persuasion and unlawful commercial practices?  

Hot off the press: after a short consultation period the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) published its guidelines on protection of online consumers on 11 February 2020. In the guidelines, the ACM clarifies how it applies consumer protection rules to online buying behavior influencing tactics. The most important points of guidance: 

  • Prices including all costs must be clear during the ordering process (i.e. before purchase);   
  • For consumers it must be clear if an offer is personalized;
  • Scarcity indications must be true; 
  • Default settings must not be set to the detriment of consumers;    
  • Search results must be based on the interest of the searching consumer;    
  • Online reviews and likes must be real and not made up or manipulated;    
  • In the case of online games, the costs and odds of winning lootboxes must be clearly stated.

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.