Consumer watchdogs across Europe are set to probe online offers from websites selling mobile, fixed and digital services after a European Commission (EC) report said as many as 79 per cent could be flouting regulations.
The initial probe covered 207 consumer-facing websites retailing mobile, fixed, broadband and broadcast streaming services in individual markets across Europe.
Publishing the findings, the EC said half of those suspected of infringing consumer rules related to “misleading” discount deals. It noted the problem often related to advertising discount or free services, which were only available as part of a bundle.
The EC said 79 per cent of those suspected of breaking EU laws failed to detail correct dispute resolution procedures.
Other issues included 32 per cent of suspect websites giving inadequate descriptions of cancellation procedures after changing contract terms, and 25 per cent failing to provide “clear and truthful information” about compensation and refunds. Automatic contract renewal was highlighted as a potential issue in 22 per cent of cases.
European commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova (pictured) said: “Consumers use their mobile phone or internet subscriptions every day and should be able to trust these services. This screening confirms, however, that a number of websites selling such services are misleading consumers by advertising fake discounts or not providing the full information necessary to make an informed choice.”
“I expect the false and misleading information to be corrected as soon as possible to ensure the sector fully respects EU consumer rules,” she added.
The issue has now been passed on to national regulators for further investigation and resolution.