Germany leads EU in unpronounceable consumer protection
Germany has become the first country to enact a new EU law to protect online consumers against new types of fraud. One visible change will be a “Zahlungspflichtig bestellen” button on internet sites which translates into “order with an obligation to pay” button.
The law is designed to combat internet “subscription traps”, sites that lure consumers with a free offer but actually sign them up for a service where the real costs are hidden and conditions can be misleading if not fraudulent. By late 2012, customers at German ecommerce sites will have to click a button labeled "zahlungspflichtig bestellen" to complete their online purchases instead of the current “anmeldung” (registration) button.
The “Button Law” adopted by the German Bundestag is a result from EU Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights. And, it might be used as a model for the other EU countries to copy as the 2013 deadline on the consumer rights Directive approaches. Since Germany is the largest economy in the European Union, this new law might just have a knock-on impact on consumer rights that goes outside of the country’s borders.
According to Jana Pattynova, a partner at the Prague office of Pierstone, an international law firm, pointed out that along with the new button, potential customers will get information on three basic points:
- This is not a free service - Customers have to explicitly acknowledge that the service they have signed up for will cost them money.
- What is it going to cost - Customers will get information – in a readable font size and color – on the real cost of the service.
- What is the deal – Accurate summary of the contract terms, duration, and conditions.
Based on an interpretation of German law, in Ms Pattynova’s view, if a site has an incorrectly labeled order button, the contract is null and void.
Of course, any site asking for your credit card number should be looked at with certain degree of suspicion.
AVAST Software has ongoing conflicts with subscription traps that ostensibly offer our free antivirus products and combine this with hidden costs and conditions buried deep in the EULA contracts. Some of these sites we block as malware, others are listed in the knowledgebase section of our website. However, it is difficult to keep people from visiting these sites before they have initially downloaded avast!.
Our message to computer users worldwide is that avast! Free Antivirus is just that – free. If a site tries to charge for the privilege of downloading it – leave immediately and tell us about it.
If you aren’t sure where to look, just visit the official www.avast.com site which will automatically redirect you them to the nearest reputable download location.
Be free with avast!