The following article is a partner article from our colleagues of Händlerbund, the largest e-commerce association in Europe.
Simply displaying a sum? Indicating prices to consumers isn’t that easy. We show how it can be done.
Prices don’t necessarily have to be stated. But if they are, then correctly. Every retailer and online retailer should be familiar with the Price Indication Ordinance (Preisangabenverordnung) that regulates this area. As the name suggests, it regulates the indication of prices for the offer of goods and services as well as in advertising to consumers.
Consequences can quickly arise for retailers who don’t consider the legal requirements here. The indication of prices is frequently the subject of judicial proceedings and warning letters. But by taking into account a few small details, the correct price is easy to set. We cover the most important considerations.
When Do Prices Have to Be Indicated?
The Price Indication Ordinance has a clear scope: It applies to those who regularly offer goods or services to consumers on a commercial or business basis or in any other way. This legal basis also applies when advertising to consumers with an indicated price.
So whenever there’s a specific offer, the Price Indication Ordinance must be observed. In advertising, on the other hand, retailers aren’t always subject to these rules: Here, the ordinance only applies if the price is actually advertised. This means that, in principle, it’s possible to advertise without indicating a price.
Offering and advertising have a substantial overlap in terms of content. This means it can be difficult to judge whether advertising can justifiably be allowed without indicating a price or whether individual cases constitute a commercial offer that requires a price indication in line with the ordinance. If you’re not sure how to proceed, err on the side of caution and state the correct price or seek professional support.
The Price – More Than Just a Number
When businesses such as online retailers indicate prices for goods or services to consumers, then it must be the total price, including VAT and other price components. This results in well-known phrases such as “100 euros incl. VAT plus shipping costs.” It’s about transparently stating what the buyer is getting into.
Sticking with this example, there’s still something missing: It’s already stated that shipping costs will be added to the price of the goods, but how much? In this case, a link to a separate page of the online shop where these costs are clearly and unambiguously broken down would be needed.
It’s not absolutely necessary for the additional information to be stated directly with the price. An asterisk noting “100 euros*” can also be used. However, the corresponding footnote “*incl. VAT plus shipping” must be clearly visible and emphasized on the same page. In turn, the asterisk itself must be eye-catching and impose itself on consumers, so to speak. A smaller font size or the like should therefore be avoided.
The value added tax doesn’t have to be included when indicating the manufacturer’s recommended retail price, provided that this is simply referred to. However, if a retailer makes this price his own, the Price Indication Ordinance applies again.
The Händlerbund Is Here to Help!
The legal protection of their web presence poses a significant additional expense for many online retailers. The Händlerbund is at your side as a competent partner for legal questions. If you as a retailer now choose the extensive legal services of the Händlerbund, you’ll receive three free months in the first year with the membership package of your choice when you use the discount code P2233#2019. Learn more now!
About the Author
Melvin Dreyer has been working as a legal editor for the Händlerbund since mid-2018. While his primary focus was on tax law during his studies, the credentialed lawyer now regularly reports and advises on legal news and issues relating to e-commerce, IT and European law.
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