New obligations and prohibitions for merchants
Publié le 8 June 2022
Since May 28, 2022, merchants are subject to new obligations towards consumers, especially when they offer discounts. In addition, the penalties for non-compliance with certain rules are strengthened.
New obligations and prohibitions are imposed on merchants. Here are the main ones.
Discounts and promotions
Merchants who announce a price reduction must indicate the previous price charged before the reduction. The previous price is the lowest price that the merchant was charging all consumers during the 30 days preceding the price reduction. The goal of this measure is to prevent false discounts.
Clarification: When successive price reductions have been made during a given period (e.g., because of the different markdowns during sales periods), the previous price will be the one charged before the first price reduction.
And beware, failure to comply with this obligation will constitute a misleading commercial practice and it may be punished by a fine of up to €300,000 or even by a prison sentence of up to 2 years.
Besides, the new measures prohibit businesspersons from soliciting consumers at their homes with a view to selling them goods or services when they have clearly expressed their wish not to be the subject of such visits.
Those who violate this prohibition will be punished by a fine of up to €150,000 or even a prison sentence of up to one year.
The measures prohibit misleading online commercial practices. Thus, it is prohibited to disseminate false consumer reviews or modify consumer reviews on an online sales site. Similarly, it is prohibited to assert that reviews about a product are issued by consumers who have used or purchased the product while no verifications have been conducted.
Again, these misleading practices can be punished by a fine of up to €300,000 or even by a prison sentence of up to 2 years.
Finally, the measures strengthen the penalties incurred by non-complying merchants. Breaching the obligation to provide consumers with pre-contractual information on the existence of legal guarantees of conformity and hidden defects or a possible commercial guarantee is, as of May 28, 2022, punishable by a fine of €15,000 (instead of €3,000 previously) for a natural person and €75,000 (instead of €15,000) for a legal person. Ditto for a breach of the obligation to inform consumers in the event of a contract concluded at a distance.
These same increased penalties are now incurred by businesspersons who stipulates unfair prohibited terms in their contracts or who maintain terms deemed unfair by a court decision.
Copyright Les Echos Publishing – 2022