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Consumers must oppose online traps

02. November 2017

European consumers are increasingly exposed to intrusive and misleading ads online. It is important that they adopt a more critical approach to these offers so they don’t end up paying for unwanted goods or subscriptions. Therefore, ECC-Net presents a film that enables consumers to identify online traps.

Intrusive marketing offering free trial packages or cheap deals appears more and more on social media and as pop-up ads. These pushy ads lure European consumers into making impulse and poorly thought out purchases or even unsolicited purchases. However, if a consumer is bound to an offer without giving one’s explicit consent the deal can be considered misleading and not binding. And so, it is important that consumers actively reject these imposed deals.

Knowledge is key

The ability to identify an online trap as well as awareness of one’s consumer rights seems to be the key in opposing an unwanted deal. Consumers need to know when to refuse to pay for unwanted goods and subscriptions. Nonetheless, a survey* shows that European consumers have limited knowledge of their rights when they end up with an unwanted package or in a subscription trap. The consumers specifically lack knowledge about the right of withdrawal and the opportunity to ask their bank to transfer back a transaction on their credit card.

ECC-Net presents a film that with a simple and humoristic approach reveals some features of these traps. The purpose of the film is to enable consumers to better identify these online traps.  

"With this film and our 5 pieces of advice on dealing with online traps we hope to enable consumers to respond actively if they feel conned into making a purchase or perhaps to avoid dubious offers to begin with," says Lars Arent, director of ECC Denmark.

5 advice – how to deal with online traps

  1. Before typing in your name and address, you should check if you will be bound by a purchase or a subscription.
  2. It must be clearly stated when ordering a trial package or offer if it entails a binding subscription.
  3. You are not required to pay for or return a package that you have not ordered.
  4. It is the seller who has to prove that you have given your consent to a purchase.
  5. If the seller withdraws money on a payment card without your consent, you can complain to your bank and ask for charge back.

Read more about unsolicited goods and hidden subscriptions

* The survey was quantitative survey conducted by Sifo Kantar in the six countries Sweden, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, which have reported the largest number of problems with subscription traps within the ECC network. Report link.

Read the report (pdf)

About ECC

European Consumer Centre Denmark is a member of the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net), a European network cooperating to help consumers when they buy goods or services across borders within the EU. The network consists of a European Consumer Centre in every EU member state and in Norway and Iceland.

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