1. The Background:
Based on the European Commission's " New Deal for Consumers" initiative, the 'Omnibus' Directive (Directive (EU) 2019/2161) was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 27 November 2019. The new Directive aims to boost consumer protection laws through stricter transparency requirements and enhance their enforcement to offer a higher level of consumer protection.
The EU Member States have implemented the Omnibus Directive into their national legislation, and Greece was not an exception. Notably, the Greek implementation took place through a transposition law (Law Nr. 4933/2022) published on 20 May 2022, which introduced significant changes, especially concerning traders obligations and their digital presence.
2. The Scope:
The new law amends Law Nr. 2251/1994 (the main legal framework for consumer protection in Greece) and Law Nr. 4177/2013. In short, it applies to all B2C e-Commerce companies that provide digital services, goods, or content to consumers in Greece.
3. Key changes:
Besides the introduction of new definitions, such as ''goods with digital elements'', ''online marketplace'', ''ranking'' and ''digital service'', these are the main changes you need to be aware of.
A) Transparency requirements for products offered in online marketplaces
If your business offers goods or services in Greece, you are now required to:
- provide general information about your business in a section of your website, which must be accessible from the page where the offers are presented;
- indicate whether the person offering the goods, services or digital content is a trader (i.e., a professional seller). This is important because when the seller is not a trader, consumer protection law (including Laws Nr. 4933/2022 and 2251/1994) will not apply, and a consumer-to-consumer relationship (also known as 'C2C') will be established instead;
- indicate, where applicable, how the contractual obligations are shared between the relevant third-parties and your online marketplace; and
- indicate the main parameters determining the ranking of offers presented to your costumers and the relative importance of those parameters.
B) New rules on price reduction
Another relevant change concerns the mandatory your businesses must provide on price reductions. If you introduce discounts and special offers (e.g. Black Friday offers), you must indicate the previous price applied, which is the lowest price used at least 30 days before the price reduction. Higher fines have also been imposed for breaching this rule, although this only applies when offering goods (not digital content or services).
C) New additions on misleading commercial practices
The following items have been added to the list of misleading commercial practices:
- Providing search results following a consumer's online search query without clearly disclosing paid advertisements or fees for achieving higher product rankings within the search results;
- Reselling event tickets to consumers when the supplier has acquired them using automated means to circumvent limits imposed on the number of tickets;
- Providing statements or product reviews without taking reasonable and proportionate steps to verify that they come from consumers who have actually used or purchased the product; and
- Submitting or commissioning another person to submit false consumer ratings or positive consumer reviews or distorting consumer ratings or reviews to promote products.
4. Empowering Consumers
The usual 14-day withdrawal period is now extended to 30 days only for contracts concluded after unscheduled visits by the supplier to the consumer's home or excursions organised by the supplier with the purpose or effect of offering products to consumers. For distance selling contracts, the 14-day withdrawal period remains in place.
In addition, in the event of a misleading commercial practice, the consumer can request a price reduction, ask for the termination of their contract, as well as request a judicial cessation of the trader's unfair practice and seek compensation for any damage suffered as a result of that practice.
5. The risks:
Consumer law violations can now lead to fines ranging from €5,000 to €1,500,000.
In terms of misleading commercial practices, if the price reduction communications are inaccurate or misleading, a fine of up to 2% (instead of the previous 1%) of the trader's annual turnover may be imposed, and in any case will not be less than €20,000. In case of a repeat offence within 5 years, the maximum fine will be increased to 4% of the trader's annual turnover.
The newly adopted legislation also introduces new criteria for calculating the fine to ensure harmonisation across the EU Member States. These include the nature, gravity, scale and duration of the violation, the trader's mitigations actions, previous infringements, financial benefits gained, losses avoided, etc.
How can Logan & Partners help?
Compliance with the new legislation requires a detailed assessment of the scope of new legislation and an analysis of the measures put in place by the business in Greece and the other EU Member States, if applicable. Please get in touch with us here if you have any questions, as our e-commerce team can assist you with this and other matters.
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.