Notice: Consumers report geoblocking to the German Federal Network Agency

In Germany, the Federal Network Agency has paved the way for consumers to be able to complain about geoblocking practices.

Whenever a customer experiences difficulties when purchasing goods or services from a supplier in another EU country, this is referred to as geoblocking. Geoblocking can occur in different ways in online and in brick-and-mortar trading. For instance, this is the case whenever customers are prevented from placing an online order with a supplier from another EU country or cannot pay with their foreign credit card. In the course of advancing digitisation, online trading is gaining increasing significance. Taking action to counter geoblocking practices therefore is of particular relevance in this field.

Source: Bundesnetzagentur (German Federal Network Agency) in a press release available for download here.

The communication goes on to say: Discrimination in the purchase of goods or services based e.g. on the nationality or residence of the purchaser is prohibited in the EU. The European Geoblocking Regulation prohibits geoblocking in cases of cross-border orders being placed. It applies to consumers and, in certain cases, also to business customers.

Online form for geoblocking complaints raised by consumers

In Germany, the Federal Network Agency is responsible for enforcing the Geoblocking Regulation and, following the introduction of an online form, it has paved the way for consumers to be able to complain about geoblocking practices. Complaints concerning geoblocking practices can be reported to the Federal Network Agency at: www.bundesnetzagentur.de/geoblocking-beschwerde.

Fines of up to 300,000 euros

The Federal Network Agency can initiate proceedings against providers in the event of a violation of the Geoblocking Regulation. In doing so, it may issue decrees and impose fines of up to 300,000 euros. Numerous cases have already been reported: Most complaints concern orders for apparel, electrical appliances and e-books.

Do not fall into the geoblocking trap

In the opinion of our legal counsel, Dr Holger Jacobj (law firm: Prof. Versteyl Rechtsanwälte), the German Federal Network Agency itself provides the solution to avoid falling into the geoblocking trap: When placing orders for goods, consumers should remember that while the supplier must enable an EU-wide order to be placed, the supplier is not obliged, however, to deliver the goods outside its territory, e.g. to the consumer’s domicile. In the experience of the German Federal Network Agency, consumers are particularly willing to organise transportation of goods purchased abroad in the EU themselves if they live in border areas or if the products belong in a more expensive category, either by collecting the goods or by organising transportation via a logistics firm.

Legal compliance for delivery to target markets

If you sell and deliver goods to consumers within the EU, the take-e-way team will advise you free of charge of your obligations in the respective EU target markets and offer you solutions to this end if requested by you. The company take-e-way will be pleased to assist you. Call +49/40/750687-0 or send an e-mail to service@take-e-way.com.