German consumer body challenges Amazon before the courts over 'Dash' button

Out-Law News | 05 Oct 2016 | 12:31 pm | 1 min. read

A consumer watchdog is planning to challenge Amazon's right to use its Dash button service in Germany before the courts in the country.

The consumer advice centre of North Rhine-Westphalia said the company's use of the Dash button service is in breach of Germany's consumer protection laws.

The Amazon Dash is a product-branded device that features a Wi-Fi connected button that consumers can press to place a new order for the particular branded goods. Orders are managed through Amazon's mobile app where consumers can also select to be notified when they place an order.

However, the consumer advice centre of North Rhine-Westphalia said that the Dash button service does not accord with the requirements of German consumer protection laws in a number of ways.

In a statement it has claimed Amazon fails to appropriately notify consumers that payment will be triggered when they press the Dash button, and that information about the product, such as the total price to be paid and the product's essential characteristics, is not displayed to consumers at the time of ordering via the Dash button

The watchdog also said that terms and conditions relied on by Amazon allow the company to alter the price and shipping costs for each product, and choose replacement goods to deliver to consumers if their selected product is unavailable. It said such clauses are "inadmissible".

The consumer advice centre of North Rhine-Westphalia said it was pursuing legal action against Amazon before the courts after the company had not complied with a cease and desist letter it had sent it.

Technology law expert Daniel Widmann of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, previously said that Amazon could face difficulty in showing that its Dash button service complies with German consumer protection laws.

Widmann said that Amazon could also find its new 'Echo' technology encounters the same kind of compliance scrutiny. Echo is an artificial intelligence tool developed by Amazon which allows consumers to shop online via voice commands.

"I think that it is positive that companies develop new technologies for sales options on the internet but they need to consider that they also have to comply with existing consumer protection laws," Widmann said. asked Amazon for a comment in response to the case being raised against it in Germany but did not receive a response.

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