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Prices of products offered to consumers

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Prices of products offered to consumers

It is compulsory to indicate the selling price and the unit price of all products offered by traders to consumers, in order to improve consumer information and to facilitate price comparisons. Prices must be unambiguous, easily identifiable and clearly legible.

ACT

Directive 98/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 on consumer protection in the indication of the prices of products offered to consumers

SUMMARY

The selling price and the unit price must be indicated in an unambiguous, easily identifiable and clearly legible manner for all products offered by traders to consumers ("unambiguous" meaning the final price including VAT and all other taxes).

The unit price need not be indicated if it is identical to the selling price.

However, Member States may decide not to apply this rule:

  • to products supplied in the course of the provision of a service;
  • to sales by auction and sales of works of art and antiques.

For products sold in bulk, only the unit price must be indicated.

Any advertising which mentions the selling price must also indicate the unit price.

Member States may:

  • waive the obligation to indicate the unit price of products for which such indication would not be useful or would be liable to create confusion;
  • in the case of non-food products, draw up a list of the products to which the obligation to indicate the unit price will remain applicable.

The Directive provides for a transitional period during which small retail businesses will not be subject to the obligation to indicate the unit price of products other than those sold in bulk.

The Member States must:

  • take appropriate measures to inform all persons concerned about the transposition of this legislation;
  • lay down, and provide information on, the system of penalties for infringements of the national provisions adopted in application of this Directive.

This Directive repeals Directives 79/581/EEC (foodstuff prices) and 88/314/EEC (non-food product prices) with effect from 18 March 2000.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 98/6/EC [adoption: codecision COD/1995/0148]

18.3.1998

18.3.2003

OJ L 80, 18.3.1998

RELATED ACTS

Communication of 21 July 2006 from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the implementation of Directive 1998/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 on consumer protection in the indication of prices of products offered to consumers [COM(2006) 325 final - Not published in the Official Journal]. The Communication indicates that, although the Directive applies only to movable goods, several countries have also included services: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia.

It also confirms that all Member States have exempted certain categories of goods or lists of products from the obligation to indicate the unit price.

Moreover, the unit price also applies to advertising. Failure to indicate it is regarded as misleading advertising and is thus prohibited by the Directive on unfair commercial practices.

Comparative advertising

Reference for a preliminary ruling from the Rechtbank van Koophandel de Bruxelles, of 29 July 2004, in Case C-356/04 Lidl Belgium GmbH & Co KG v NV Etablissementen Franz Colruyt [Official Journal C 273, 6.11.2004]. This ruling concludes that advertising which compares the price levels of different supermarkets based on a sample of products is misleading and thus prohibited.

On 23 April 1998 the Commission submitted a Recommendation concerning dual display of prices and other monetary amounts.

Last updated: 03.11.2006

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