Unfair commercial practices: fine of half a million euro to Marcopoloshop

Unieuro Antitrust

The Competition Authority and the Market has recently occupied the area of e-commerce, a sector in strong growth in recent years and is characterized by a very heated competition, in which, the consumer purchaser of the times is in place a position of inevitable information asymmetry with respect to the professional. “

By decision of 4 December 2015 (available here), the Antitrust Authority has in fact imposed a penalty of € 500,000 paid by the SGM Distributions Srl for unfair business practices, in accordance with articles. 20, paragraph 2, 21, paragraph 1, letter b), c) and g), 23 e) and f), 24 and 25, letter d) of the Consumer Code, the same carried out in the promotion and sale products through the company website www.marcopoloshop.it now www.unieuro.it.
The penalty, borne by the largest Italian chain of consumer electronics and appliances, comes at the end of a proceeding initiated ex officio by the Authority and by the numerous reports of various consumers.In the opinion of the Italian competition and market, selling arrangements on line implemented by the company on the site www.unieuro.it do not conform to the level of professional care required by the specificity of e-commerce and the relevant provision of the law, but suitable to integrate a violation of consumer protection concerning unfair practices.

In fact, the Antitrust Authority is satisfied that on its website, the company offered to consumers immediately as available” even products that, in fact, they were not, so bringing the consumer inconvenience and inefficiency, such as: a) the cancellation of your order purchase; b) Delivery times more than projected so unduly conditioning it to purchase an alternative product instead of proceeding to an immediate refund.

In addition, the Authority has found profiles of impropriety also about providing for the administration of the subsequent phases to the purchase of the products, which were found serious deficiencies in the performance of the disclosure requirements by the company. Customer Service Marcopolo Shop, in fact, not informed promptly and properly consumers about the real state of the orders and the practical possibilities of receiving the products purchased in those terms by the company“; conduct, this does not comply with the level of professional care required in e-commerce and, at the same time, capable of hindering the exercise of contractual rights for consumers, depriving them of the opportunity to choose a fast, aware whether to wait evasion of order or contact another supplier.

But not only. The basis of the measure adopted by the Authority so strict there is also the fact, very significant, that the service of SGM Distributions Srl adopted behaviors aimed to increase the time for the return or release of the amounts paid, as the crediting of these amounts was done only after the disclosure of the unavailability of the product and thus the demand of wanting to opt for a refund instead of a purchase alternative product.

Well, in the opinion of the Authority, this practice is inconsistent with the level of professional care required in e-commerce because, as seen, the crediting of the amounts paid is a duty, which must be placed unilaterally by the professional and must be contextual to the communication of the annulment of the order, if not previous to the same. So that the specification of the will to get the refund, by the consumer, is a condition superfluous and unnecessary, cause inconvenience and unnecessary delays to the detriment of consumers. “

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