Throughout the EU, sellers must list the prices of products clearly enough that you can easily compare similar products and make informed choices, no matter how they are packaged or how many units are sold together.
When advertising or selling products, companies are required by law to clearly state the price you have to pay.
Complete information about the price
The price indicated in an offer must include all taxes and shipping costs. If there are additional costs that cannot be determined in advance, they must also tell you immediately.
When something is advertised as “free”, they cannot force you to pay for anything other than:
- Reply to ad
- Pick up the item or have it delivered to you
Easy to compare: price per unit
You should also be able to compare prices between different brands and package sizes, to see, for example, how much you would save if you bought a large package of breakfast cereal instead of a small package.
To do this, the label must not only indicate the sale price, but also the unit price: for example, per kilo or per liter. This information must be understandable, easy to read and easily identifiable.
The rule also applies to all advertising in which the sale price is mentioned.
The following are examples of products to which the unit price rules may not apply, either because it could lead to confusion, or because of the particular nature or use of the product:
- products sold in vending machines
- items sold at auctions
- works of art or antiques.
Misleading claims about price reductions
Claims about price reductions such as ‘was €50, now €25’ can be misleading if the initial sale price has been inflated (known as an ‘anchoring price’).
In all EU countries, when offering a discount, merchants are obliged to indicate the lowest price applied to the item no later than thirty days before the announcement of the price reduction.
As a consumer, this information allows you to assess whether the discount is real or not.
Price discrimination is prohibited
As an EU citizen, a seller cannot charge you more to buy products or services solely because of your nationality or your country of residence. However, some price differences are justified if they are based on objective criteria and not only on nationality.
For example, depending on postage costs, you may pay more for a shipment to one country or another. However, sellers may set different net sales prices depending on outlets, such as shops and websites, or they may direct specific offers only to a certain territory of a Member State.
According to EU rules, all such offers must be accessible to consumers in other EU countries.
However, there is no possible justification for differences in access to goods or services for customers from different EU countries in the following three situations:
- sale of goods without physical delivery, for example when you buy a product online that you will personally pick up in a store, instead of receiving it at home
- sale of services provided electronically (excluding content protected by copyright), such as cloud computing services or website hosting
- sale of services provided in a specific place, for example hotel reservations, car rentals, tickets for amusement parks, etc.
When a seller has several versions of the same website depending on the country, for example an online store that sells products in different EU countries, you must be able to choose which of those versions you want to consult.
You have to give your authorization to be redirected to a country-specific version of the website. You should also be able to modify your choice at any time.
Retailers may use algorithms to track your preferences or online browsing habits and set prices accordingly. The goal is to price items based on what you’d be willing to pay for a particular item. This practice is not illegal, but as a consumer you are entitled to full price transparency.
Under EU rules, merchants are required to inform you if the price is personalized based on automated decisions and profiling of your specific consumer behavior.
Companies are required by law to clearly state the price you have to pay