Polish competition watchdog accuses Amazon EU of misleading consumers

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Amazon logo at the company logistics center in Lauwin-Planque

GDANSK (Reuters) - Poland's competition watchdog has accused e-commerce giant Amazon's European arm of misleading sales and delivery practices, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) said on Wednesday.

The office said consumers on Amazon's Polish website were misled as to the moment a sales contract is concluded, product availability, delivery times and consumer rights, which if proven could result in a penalty for Amazon EU of up to 10% of its turnover.

Amazon's head of corporate communications in Poland, Aleksandra Zarychta-Kuzalska, told Reuters that the company follows all legal requirements in Poland and other countries where it operates.

"We will continue to look for ways to further improve our customer experience, and we will cooperate with UOKiK", she added.

According a statement published by UOKiK, Amazon EU treated orders it received through the Amazon.pl website as non-binding until the moment the company had confirmed actual shipment, leaving it the option to cancel them.

Using phrases such as "buy now" and "proceed to checkout" can suggest that consumers are making a purchase and that the transaction takes place immediately once payment is made, UOKiK said.

"If consumers knew that placing an order was not a purchase, and that product availability and delivery times are only estimates, they might not use the services of this company," head of UOKiK Tomasz Chrostny said.

The office noted that these terms were spelled out on the Amazon.pl website, but their legibility and placement made it difficult for consumers to read them.

UOKiK said delivery guarantee terms with the option to receive a refund in case of delay were not easily available to consumers.

It added that it had launched an inquiry into the practices in September 2021 following consumer complaints.

(Reporting by Karol Badohal and Adrianna Ebert; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan)