Dynamic pricing, scarcity markers, nudging, social proof and dark patterns. There are endless tactics to influence online buying decisions. Where is the line between permissible influence and an unfair commercial practice? In the Guidelines on the protection of the online consumes, published in 2020, regulator ACM clarified how it applies consumer rules to online influencing techniques. The key guidelines at a glance:
- Prices including additional costs must be clear throughout the ordering process;
- Traders must be transparent about personalising price and offer;
- Scarcity markings must be correct;
- Default options must not be set to the detriment of consumers;
- The trader must be transparent about the order of search results;
- Online reviews and likes must be genuine and must not be manipulated;
- In online games the costs and chances of winning loot boxes must be clear.
On 31 October 2022 the ACM published an updated version of the Guidelines (in Dutch, English translation will be published any moment). The reason for this update included developments in laws and regulations within Europe, such as the Dutch Implementation Act for the Modernisation of Consumer Protection Directive. This contains rules on ranking search results and personalised prices. As of 17 February 2024, the new rules of the European Digital Services Act will apply in the Netherlands, which will impose additional obligations on online platforms, including online marketplaces. The updated Guideline already mentions these new rules. New in the Guideline are the topics of advertising, influencers and stimulating (more) use of online services (e.g. 'infinite scrolling').
Worth reading for anyone involved in e-commerce!
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.