Mandatory tests in schools, transparency in online trading: in May it will change

AndThe law to strengthen consumer protection in competition and commercial law (GSVWG) will come into effect at the end of May. Most of the important changes for consumers are based on this amendment. The law aims to protect against unfair business practices when traveling to coffee, improve transparency in online marketplaces, and introduce stricter rules for influencers.

The GSVWG applies a 2019 EU directive, which is about better enforcement and modernization of consumer protection rules. What else changes in May.

End of compulsory tests in schools

After masks have become compulsory in most schools on April 1st, there will be no more compulsory tests from May 1st, except in Berlin and Thuringia. However, kits are still provided for voluntary testing, for example in Lower Saxony three pieces a week. This applies to all schoolchildren and kindergartens from the age of three, according to Education Minister Grant Hendrik Tonne (SPD) in Hanover. With the withdrawal of most of the Crown requirements, a feeling of normalcy will return.

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However, the current data on the infection would also show all too clearly that the pandemic has not yet been overcome. “So if you want to wear a mask to school voluntarily or want to test yourself regularly before going to school or daycare, you can of course do it,” says Tonne.

No Corona ordinance on occupational safety

The Corona Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance expires May 25, according to the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Until then, employers have yet to take basic protective measures to protect themselves from infections at work. Based on a risk assessment, the measures for operational protection against infection must be defined in the concept of operational hygiene. After that, it will be possible to work as before the pandemic if the regulation is not extended again.

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Transparency in online trading

Consumer rights in online trading improve: from 29 May online marketplaces will have to indicate whether the offers they list come from professional suppliers or from consumers. And comparison platforms and similar brokerage services are obliged to disclose the ranking of goods and services.

Furthermore, transparency in consumer ratings is becoming mandatory, as suppliers have to explain what steps they have taken to ensure the authenticity of those ratings. And it needs to be made even clearer when search results include paid offers.

Ticket exchanges must provide information on the original price of the entrance tickets. This is intended to inform buyers about the additional costs and fees charged. High fines are possible for violation, according to NRW’s Consumer Advice Center. Companies with an annual turnover of more than 1.25 million euros can be fined up to four percent of their turnover.

Compensation for fraud

Consumers who have been harmed by unfair commercial practices in the future will be entitled to compensation. This also applies to trade across the EU. Some cross-border violations of consumer protection laws in the EU will constitute an administrative offense in the future so that such violations can be sanctioned more uniformly. “Applicable law already offers broad but not comprehensive protection,” according to the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.

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In the future, the following will apply: If buyers have been asked to make a business decision that they otherwise would not have made and suffer damage as a result, they are entitled to compensation. These are not just decisions about buying or not buying goods or services, but also about directly related decisions.

“Psychological coercion or pressure exerted, such as persistent and unwanted targeting of consumers through telephone advertising, can also lead to a claim for compensation,” according to the ministry. The limitation period for these claims is extended from six to twelve months.

More safety while driving for a coffee

At the end of May it will also be safer for customers traveling with coffee. In the future, organizers will need to better inform the authorities on how to reach them. You must provide your address, telephone number and e-mail address. This also applies to coffee trips that take overseas.

The sale of medical devices, food supplements and financial products is prohibited during coffee trips. And since coffee trips are legally part of home transactions, a so-called immediate payment ban for amounts over 50 euros will be introduced for both, according to the Federal Consumer Association.

Violations of the rules are punished with a fine of up to 10,000 euros instead of the previous maximum of 1,000 euros.

Differences of identical products

Goods that are identically labeled and marketed may have different properties or formulations in different EU Member States.

This does not change everything, but: in the future it will be inadmissible to propose the marketing of a product identical to a product made available on the market of other Member States if these differ “significantly” in composition and characteristics, according to the Judiciary and the Department for Protection of consumers.

Influencers need to come out

From the end of May there will be stricter rules for influencers and other bloggers: we need to more clearly separate advertising and expressions of opinion. The definition here: If an influencer recommends a third-party company’s product without receiving any money or similar consideration, there is no commercial purpose and there is no requirement to label it.

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In principle, this regulation also applies to influencers who target German consumers from abroad. However, the Ministry does not disclose how this requirement should be concretely applied.

Uniform information on basic prices

There is a second law aimed at making it easier for consumers to compare products: the New Price Indication Ordinance (PAngV). Consequently, from the end of May, the basic prices for all products from all sectors must be indicated in liters or kilograms. So far, the price has been indicated per 100 grams, per kilo, sometimes in 100 milliliters, sometimes in full liters.

If you didn’t stop in the second class when doing mental arithmetic, you can quickly calculate the comparison price in advance. This will be even easier in the future, because the PAngV applies to all foods sold at retail. Customers can see at a glance which product is more expensive or cheaper.

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However, the new on-shelf pricing information does not apply to products with an expiration date that is about to expire. A discount sticker will suffice for them in the future. So a “50 percent less” label is sufficient. There is no need to specify a new price on the shelf.

Consumer advocates recommend checking the shopping list to see if the discounted price has actually been taken into account at checkout. The goal of the new regulation: to avoid waste. Simply labeling affected food products should help sell them better, in order to avoid the amount of waste at retailers.

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