Electronic commerce faced with three new directives. Big changes for sellers in May


EU directives are soon to be transposed into Polish legislation. Photo Pixabay.com

Three EU directives – 2019/770 (Digital Directive), 2019/771 (Goods Directive) and 2019/2161 (Omnibus Directive) are due to be transposed into Polish law next month. They concern a number of issues, including claims made on the basis of a guarantee, digital content delivered electronically, as well as the obligation to inform. A Legal Geek expert explains what the changes mean for sellers.

  • The three EU directives, once transposed into Polish legislation, could significantly change e-commerce obligations.
  • One of the main elements of the planned changes are the new information requirements related to reductions in the prices of goods. In addition to the reduced price, it will also be necessary to indicate the lowest price of the goods which was valid within 30 days before the introduction of the reduction.
  • Also, the phone number will become mandatory information on the seller’s site.

E-commerce and store regulations haven’t changed as frequently as they have in the last dozen months. Already in May, a number of other regulatory changes concerning, among other things, consumer rights, are due to come into force. The purpose of these amendments is to implement three EU directives into Polish law – 2019/770 (Digital Directive), 2019/771 (Goods Directive) and 2019/2161 (Omnibus Directive). Acts implementing the aforementioned directives are due to enter into force on May 28. However, work on the final wording of the amendment is not yet complete and there is no certainty as to the date and final content of the documents.

– The first part of the changes was supposed to come into effect on January 1 of this year and it is for this date that we have prepared the regulations in our Creator. However, they have not yet seen the light of day, because we are still waiting for the entry into force of Polish law – he explains Zofia Babicka-Klecorlawyer and CEO of Legal Geek Assistanta solution that provides automated legal services for online stores.

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Lawyer Zofia Babicka-Klecor. Photo press material

– Will all changes take effect in May? Hard to say. We can follow the legislative process and be ready to implement the amendment – he adds. – The envisaged regulatory changes will bring a number of changes for e-commerce platform providers, but they will also bring many challenges to online shops and platforms offering software to run online shops in the SaaS model .

Discounts on goods under the new rules

One of the main elements of the planned changes are the new information requirements related to reductions in the prices of goods. In such a situation, it will be necessary to show, in addition to the discounted price, the lowest price of the goods that was valid in the 30-day period preceding the introduction of the discount. On the other hand, in the case of new online stores or new products that do not have a 30-day comparative period – the lowest price that was in effect in the period from the introduction of the product to the ‘offer.

Unclear regulations – a challenge for the food industry

While the regulations for standard products are quite understandable, the provisions concerning the food industry raise many doubts. According to the Polish draft law, in the case of goods that deteriorate rapidly or have a short shelf life, the information on the reduced price is accompanied by the information on the price before the first application of the reduction.

– The formulation “the price before the first application of the reduction” raises many doubts of interpretation. A linguistic interpretation of the proposed provision can lead to the conclusion that in the case of products that have been on the market for a long time, it will be necessary to reach even prices from several years ago. However, this does not seem to be the goal of the legislator – says Zofia Babicka-Klecor.

The lack of precision in the regulations means that entrepreneurs are forced to adapt to the new law and do not know how to do it correctly. This applies to both individual grocery stores and online store software providers who want to update their e-commerce tools appropriately.

– We were waiting for the draft regulation on the display of prices of goods and services in the hope that it will dispel our doubts, but unfortunately it does not bring anything new to the problem – explains the lawyer of Legal Geek.

– In my opinion, resorting to linguistic interpretation takes us away from the aim of the legislator. It seems reasonable for the seller to inform about the first price of the goods of a given batch with the same expiry date. Perhaps in the final version of the new law or new regulation, this major gap in interpretation will be removed. – he adds.

The online store must have a phone number

– Based on current consumer rights law, it is possible and legal to omit the telephone number from the contact details. The implementation of the Omnibus Directive will change this and the telephone number will become mandatory information on the seller’s website – explains Zofia Babicka-Klecor.

For at least some micro-entrepreneurs, providing a phone number on the website is quite a hurdle. Especially if they work alone and combine it with other professional or private activities. For this reason, some e-merchants decide to only provide communication channels that allow them to contact customers in a time and in a form that suits them. Soon, such a practice will be illegal and a new challenge will appear for a group of e-merchants who operate an online store part-time or, for example, on maternity leave.

Giving the phone number is not enough, you still have to pick it up

While providing a phone number isn’t a difficult task, ensuring customers can effectively contact the seller in this way is. Providing an unreachable number can quickly frustrate the buyer and damage the opinion of the e-store. It can also damage its credibility.

– Already, the law on consumer rights requires that the contact details available on the store’s website ensure fast and efficient communication with the entrepreneur. This will not change and the requirement will remain, including the phone number. Unfortunately, the legislator does not indicate how he understands such communication – adds the founder of Kreator Legal Geek.

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