2.1.2. Decision to purchase

The undisputed category of decisions covered by the Directive is decisions to purchase a product or contract a service or decisions not to do so. But placing an order, making a reservation, accepting a commercial offer are also actions which clearly require a transactional decision in the sense of the Directive.

On this point, it should be noted that a decision to purchase taken by a consumer will qualify as a transactional decision even if such determination does not lead to or is not followed by the conclusion of a valid transaction between the consumer and the trader (i.e. a binding purchase or service agreement under the national contract law of a Member State).

Example: A consumer sees a very attractive promotional offer to buy a digital camera. This is exactly the type of camera he has been looking for and he decides to buy it. He goes to the shop where he finds out, to his disappointment, that the camera is available at that price only if he subscribes to a photography course. He then changes his mind and decides not to purchase the camera any longer. He complains to the local authorities claiming that the advertisement was misleading. The trader claims that, although in the initial advertisement there was no mention of the specific conditions of the offer (i.e. the need to subscribe to a photography course), all the information was available at the store and that, since the consumer did not buy the camera, the initial advertisement did not cause the consumer to take a transactional decision (i.e. the material distortion test is not met).

In the example above there are three transactional decisions which the consumer took prompted by the information provided by the trader: the decision to purchase, the decision to travel to the shop and finally the decision not to purchase. The above shows that a consumer does not need to make a purchase (e.g. by placing an order) in order to take a transactional decision in the sense of the Directive. First of all, based on the Directive, the decision not to purchase also constitutes a transactional decision. Secondly, as it is explained below, the consumer may take several decisions other than a decision to purchase (or not to purchase) but which can, nevertheless, qualify as transactional decisions (e.g. travelling to the trader's premises).


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