Shopping in e-shops with superior consumer protection

The amendment to the Civil Code and the Consumer Protection Act, which came into force on January 6, brought significant changes to consumer protection law. Several innovations will particularly please e-shoppers. Consumers should be more protected in the shopping process with new, stricter rules, such as reviews and discounts.

According to statistics from the Czech project, there are currently almost 51,000 e-shops in the Czech Republic.

Reviews only from buyers

Customer reviews are an essential source of information for many consumers, not only about individual products but also about the e-shop itself. However, suppose online shops want to continue to display customer reviews on their websites. In that case, they must ensure they are verified as coming from buyers who purchased the product from the shop. They are also obliged to inform their customers about how to verify the authenticity of the reviews.

“The new obligation can be addressed by allowing customers to submit a review only via a link sent by email with the order confirmation. Another option is that only customers logged in to their user account can add reviews for purchased products,” explains Lucie Panáčková, partner at Spring Walk.

No more misleading discounts

It’s no secret that online shoppers are looking for Black Friday and similar discount promotions. And it is no surprise that there are e-shops that do not approach discounts honestly; for example, they gradually increase the price of goods before the planned discount event so that the deal appears more prominent in the end. The amendment targets these practices and introduces a new rule that any discount must be quoted against the lowest price at which the product was sold in the 30 days before the deal.

However, perishable goods, services, and intangible products are exempt from this rule, and it does not apply to personalized offers, loyalty programs, or free 2+1 promotions.

Newly, e-shops must also ask customers to check the contents of their order before sending it and must not automatically add any items to the basket, even with pre-ticked boxes. Therefore, only items the customer has actively selected will go into the basket.

Greater responsibility for defects or assembly

“Several e-shops have so far worked in such a way that the customer automatically added additional goods to the basket together with the purchased goods, for example, replacement bags for the vacuum cleaner,” says Panáčková. “Another protection brought by the amendment is that it will no longer be possible for goods to be automatically added to the basket without the customer’s conscious action,” she adds.

Another significant change is the obligation to send the customer the terms and conditions in text form, in a format that the e-shop cannot change later. So no more links to terms and conditions are posted on the website, but ideally, a PDF document will be sent with the order confirmation.

For many buyers, the new obligation for the seller to deliver the goods within 30 days or tighten the terms and conditions for liability for defects are also positive. Previously, if goods were defective within six months of receipt by the buyer, it was assumed that the goods were already faulty on receipt, and it was up to the seller to prove otherwise. The amendment extends this period to 12 months. The seller is now also liable for defects caused by the incorrect assembly by the buyer in the absence of instructions.

If the seller breaches the rules laid down in the amendment, consumers can withdraw from the contracts concluded within 90 days of the date of purchase or demanded a reasonable reduction in the price.