Elon Musk’s Twitter Blue subscription is a flagship project to make the company profitable, but European prices do not include taxes such as VAT. This would breach European pricing rules.
The subscription to Twitter Blue violates the laws of the European Union on unfair commercial practices, as reported to Business Insider by a consumer watchdog of the bloc.
Specifically, advertised subscription prices do not include taxes, which violates EU consumer protection laws.
What about Twitter in Europe?
Twitter Blue is one of the emblematic projects of its new owner, Elon Musk, to make the social networking company profitable. It was implemented in European countries in February and March.
In countries that use the euro, Twitter Blue has an advertised monthly price of 8 euros for the web application, slightly more than the price of 8 dollars in the United States. The advertised annual price for most EU users is €84, up from US$84.
However, the prices do not include the value added tax, of each country, such as VAT in Germany. While in the US sales tax is added to the advertised price at checkout, the EU requires companies to advertise the full price including VAT.
That means Twitter users in Europe wouldn’t know the subscription could cost an extra €20 a year until Stripe’s checkout page automatically adds the tax after 1-2 seconds.
News outlet Business Insider tested the Twitter Blue subscription process in the UK, Belgium and Germany. When paying, 20% VAT was added in all cases. VAT in the UK is 20%, in Belgium 21% and in Germany 19%.
The German website was initially showing €84 for an annual subscription, but increased by 20%, or €16.80, to €100.80, at checkout. The final price did not appear anywhere before paying.
Subscriptions to digital services such as Spotify, Netflix and YouTube include VAT in their advertised prices.
European Consumer Center
A spokesman for the European Consumer Center in Ireland says that “the indication of prices and associated promotions infringe articles 6 and 7 of the Directive on unfair commercial practices of companies in their relations with consumers.”
The laws in question, which refer to deceptive acts and deceptive omissions, say that “a business practice will be considered deceptive if it contains false information and is therefore not true or, in any way, including the general presentation, misleads or may mislead the average consumer, even if the information is factually correct.
The legislation says that this includes “the price or the way of calculating it.” The spokesman for the Irish consumer authority Ireland denounces that “when announcing prices, Twitter must indicate the final price including VAT.“
Twitter must indicate the final price including VAT