2.6.4. Application of the information requirements in Article 7(4)

The information requirements provided in Article 7(4) concern the product's main characteristics, the trader's address, the full price inclusive of taxes, the payment arrangements, delivery, performance and complaint handling policy (if they depart from professional diligence) and the existence of a right of withdrawal or cancellation (for products involving such a right).

It is clear that under the Directive, whenever a communication includes the product and the price these information requirements become inevitably applicable.

However, the objective of these requirements is not to introduce unnecessary or disproportionate information burdens on traders but rather to ensure that consumers are not misled when they make a purchasing decision. Therefore, the wording of Article 7(4) also requires that national authorities and courts enforce this obligation in an adequate manner, taking into account the following elements.

First, traders do not need to provide information which is already obvious or apparent from the context (Article 7(4), first paragraph).

Second, establishing what constitutes the "main characteristics" of a product may vary depending on the product concerned (Article 7(4)(a)):

Third, the amount and the type of information concerning the main characteristics of the product may also vary depending on what can be considered "appropriate" in relation to the "medium" used by the trader to make that commercial communication (Article 7(4)(a)). In this connection, it is reasonable to expect that an offer on the radio may deliver to consumers less detailed information on the main characteristics of the product than an invitation to purchase on a web-site or in a specialized magazine. The main characteristics of a product or service (Article 7(4)(a)) may often be apparent from the context of the advertisement, and in this case they would not need to be listed separately.

The geographical address and the identity of the trader (Article 7(4)(b)) can sometimes be considered as "obvious or apparent from the context":

In relation to the price, it is important to note that Article 7(4)(c) requires traders to provide the total (or final) price, which must include all applicable taxes (e.g. V.A.T.) and charges, and that, when such charges cannot be calculated in advance, consumers should be properly informed that these may be payable.

The arrangements for payment, delivery, performance and the complaint handling policy of most established products, services and traders (Article 7(4)(d)) would normally be expected to conform to the requirements of professional diligence, and so would not normally have to be stated explicitly. Such information must be displayed only where the terms of payment, delivery, performance and handling of complaints are to the consumer's disadvantage when compared to the good diligent market practice.

The existence of a right of withdrawal or cancellation (Article 7(4)(e)) must be mentioned in invitation to purchase where applicable, for example in case of distance selling (e-commerce, telephone, etc). At the invitation to purchase stage, traders are only required to inform consumers about the existence of such rights (without detailing the conditions and procedures needed to exercise them).

It is worth noting that in a recent EU-wide investigation into websites selling consumer electronic goods (a "sweep"), national authorities found that 66% of the websites investigated either did not provide information on the right to withdraw or provided misleading information about it[64].

Footnotes

[64] See FAQ on EU-wide investigation into websites selling consumer electronic goods, 9 September 2009, available under: http://intranet.sanco.cec.eu.int/intranet/we-communicate/press-releases/eu-wide-investigation-into-websites-selling-consumer-electronic-goods.-frequently-asked-questions/view

Links to articles of the Directive

Keywords