AMENDING THE BULGARIAN ACT ON CONSUMER PROTECTION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE OMNIBUS DIRECTIVE
On 28.05.2022 entered into force changes to the Bulgarian Act on Consumer protection for the implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/2161 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 November 2019 amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directives 98/6/EC, 2005/29/EC and 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the better enforcement and modernisation of Union consumer protection rules, also famous as the ‘Omnibus Directive’.
The introduction of the requirements of the Omnibus Directive modernizes the provisions of the Act on Consumer Protection, creates conditions for their effective application and provides individual remedies for consumers who have suffered damages from the application of unfair commercial practices. One of the mechanisms for this is the increased amounts of the fines and sanctions for violations of the provisions of the Act on Consumer Protection, especially with regard to ‘widespread infringements’ and ‘widespread infringements with a Union dimension’. which are subject to measures for coordinated activity for the application of the legislation for consumer protection under Regulation (EU) 2017/2934, whereas with regard to the latter is provided a sanction in amount of up to 4 % of the trader’s annual turnover for the previous fiscal year in the respective EU – member state, or in all of the EU member states participating in the coordinated activity. In the cases where no information is available concerning the trader’s annual turnover for the last year in all of the EU member states participating in the coordinated activity of the authorities for consumer protection, a sanction of up to 3 920 000 BGN shall be applied.
The provisions of the Act on consumer protection are also adapted to the conditions of digital economy, as follows:
– Broadening the field of application of the Act on Consumer Protection, so that the provisions of the law concerning off-premises and distance contracts shall apply also to the providing of digital content, when the consumer does not pay a price, but provides or undertakes to provide personal data to the trader, as well as the providing of digital services, both in exchange to payment, as well as free of charge in exchange for the providing of personal data by the consumer.
– Bringing the definitions for digital content, goods, functionality of the digital content or the digital service, operational compatibility of the digital content or the digital service with the definition of the same terms, provided by the Act on the providing of digital content and digital services and on the sale of goods;
– Provision of specific requirements for providing information to consumers before they are bound by an offer for concluding a contract on an online marketplace.
Via the changes are regulated the activities of online marketplaces related to the ranking of goods and services.
An obligation is introduced to notify consumers, when the price is calculated on basis of automated decision. The notification should be performed before the consumers is bound by a distance contract or off-premises contract. This requirement is introduced by the practice of online traders to calculate prices of the goods and services they offer on basis of the demand, which they evaluate via the consumer behavior and which can result to different prices for the same goods or services for different consumers.
An obligation is introduced for traders, who provide access to users’ feedback for product, to provide additional information whether they guarantee that the feedback is from users who have actually bought or used the product; and if there is such a guarantee – how the authenticity of such feedback has been verified; also to provide clear information to consumers as to how the users’ feedback has been processed by indicating whether all opinions have been published and to indicate whether they are positive or negative, whether they are sponsored or have been influenced by a contractual relationship with the trader.
Along with the above, a requirement is introduced for traders to publish the previous price of the goods or services in case a discount is offered, as means to provide the basis for an informed consumer decision. Previous price is defined as the lowest price of the goods or service, which the trader has offered for a period of at least 30 days prior to the discount for the same point of sale, website or application.