Ministerial Decision No. 31619/ 2017

Government Gazette 969/Β/22-3-2017

Code of Consumer Ethics for E-Commerce

THE MINISTER OF ECONOMY AND DEVELOPMENT

Taking into consideration:

A. The provisions:

  1. Law 2251/1994(Government Gazette 191/A/1994), as amended and in force, especially articles 3-4Θ (H).
  2. The Presidential Decree 131/2003(Government Gazette 116/Α/2003) - Adaptation of Greek law to Directive 31/2000 of the European Parliament and the European Council on Electronic Commerce, and in particular Article 15 thereof.
  3. The Presidential Decree 10/2017(Government Gazette 23/A/2017) - Code of Consumer Ethics.
  4. The joint ministerial decision 70330/2015 - Regulations regarding the adaptation of the Greek legislation, in compliance with the Directive 2013/11/EU of the European Parliament and the European Council of 21st May 2013 on the alternative resolution of consumer disputes and the amendment of the regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (ADR Directive) and the adoption of additional national measures for the implementation of Regulation 524/2013 of the European Parliament and the European Council of 21st May 2013 on the online dispute resolution.
  5. The Presidential Decree 116/2014Organization of the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness.
  6. Decision No. 625/27-06-2016 of the Secretary General of Commerce and Consumer Secretariat - Establishment and formation of a working group, in the General Secretariat of Commerce and Consumer Protection, in order to draft a Code of Ethics for E-Commerce.
  7. Law 4074/2012 (Government Gazette 88/A/2012) - Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - and in particular Articles 4 and 9 of the Convention.;

B. The fact that no expenditure arises from the publication of this at the expense of the state budget and after the remarks of the members of the established working group, consumer associations and market entities, approves:

 Article one

The Consumer Code of Conduct for E-Commerce (hereinafter the Code), which consists of Articles 1-8, is as follows:

 "Code of Consumer Ethics for E-Commerce”

 Article 1

Purpose and Scope

  1. The Code sets out the general principles and sets out the minimum rules of professional ethics and ethical conduct that have to be followed by the companies towards the consumer.
  2. It applies to transactions in the context of contracts for the sale of goods or the provision of services concluded between consumers and suppliers for a fee entirely online, i.e. by electronic means remotely without the need for the simultaneous physical presence of both parties (B2C transactions).
  3. The Code refers to rules of self-regulation of companies operating in e-commerce aimed at consumers and is in force without prejudice to EU and Greek legislation on e-commerce and consumer protection, which in no case replaces.

 Article 2

Definitions

  1. For the application of the Code the following terms have the meaning ascribed to them below:

a) "Company, operating in the field of "e-business" (hereinafter company) means legal or natural persons established in Greece who provide products and/or services to consumers in Greece and/or abroad, operating legally directly and/or as intermediaries for the provision of services for a fee, direct or indirect, by electronic means remotely and at the personal choice of the consumer.

b) "Remote electronic means" means the services and products provided by companies and accepted by consumers through electronic processing equipment which is provided, transmitted and received entirely via the Internet and/or mobile networks/text applications.

c) For the rest of the terms, the definitions that exist in law 2251/1994, as in force, in Presidential Decree 131/2003 and in the Code of Consumer Ethics of article 7 of law 3297/2004, as in force, apply.

  1. In case of doubt, the definitions of the current legislation prevail.

 Article 3

General principles and obligations of online stores

A. General principles

The Code is governed by the principles of consumer protection, transparency, impartiality, technological neutrality, professional conduct, ethics and respect for privacy, the protection of personal data and the protection of vulnerable groups as specifically mentioned in Articles 4 and 5 hereof.

B. Minimal consumer information

  1. The company ensures the pre-contractual information of the consumer so that it can be fully, accurately and clearly informed about the following: 
    i. The full company name, registered office, postal address, VAT number, contact number/email address.
    ii. Registration number in General Comercial Registry (G.E.MI.).
    iii. Main features of the products it sells and the quality of the services provided (e.g. the total price including VAT or other taxes, shipping costs, or any costs of returning the product, any additional charges, terms and methods of payment, guarantees, size -dimensions of the product), as well as for the means of payment.
    iv. Availability of services and products and the deadline within which the supplier undertakes to deliver the goods or provide the services.
    v. Characteristics of charges, possible discount packages or special offers.
    vi. Terms of withdrawal from the contract as well as the termination or cancellation of the contract, as specifically referred to in Article 6 hereof.
    vii. The possibility of out-of-court resolution of their disputes and information on the recognized entities of alternative resolution of consumers dispute, which the suppliers commit or they are obliged to use for the resolution of the disputes. In the absence of such a commitment or obligation, the suppliers must specify whether they will make use of the relevant entities.
    viii. The possibility for online alternative dispute resolution as specifically mentioned in Article 8 hereof.
    ix. The terms of after-sales service, any commercial guarantees (content, duration and extent of territorial validity), and the seller's liability for actual defects and lack of agreed properties, according to articles 534 et seq. of the Greek Civil Code.
    x. The possible need for frequent maintenance of the products or the existence of spare parts at a very high cost in relation to the current price of these products.
    xi. The purpose of the processing, the recipients or the categories of recipients of the data and the existence of the right of access and objection, as specifically mentioned in article 5B/ par. 5 hereof.
    xii. Codes of conduct or any credentials that bind them.
    xiii. The above information to the consumer must be understandable, legal, true, up- to-date, easily accessible to all, including people with disabilities, and verifiable and must be in Greek and optionally in another language.
  1. The terms of the contract for the provision of services or the sale of products must be posted on the company’s website in a place that can be easily accessed by the consumer.
  2. In cases of an order request from the consumer, the company is obliged to deliver/send a receipt of the order request immediately which clearly states the date of receipt and confirmation of the order.
  3. Under the responsibility of the company, it becomes clear to the consumer the time at which the contract is considered to have been concluded, in accordance with the provisions of the current legislation. The basic contractual terms should be available to consumers in advance and in such a way that the order cannot be registered, if the user is not previously aware of them. Following the preparation of the contract, the company must refrain from any action that involves modification of its terms, in particular to modify the price or to inform about the non-availability of the ordered product or the ordered service.
  4. The consumer has sufficient information about the progress of his order.
  5. In case the company ascertains that the consumer did not have correct information or the contract was not concluded with his explicit consent, it makes every effort to resolve the issue in a reasonable time.
  6. The staff of e-commerce companies who come in contact with consumers for the provision of services or the sale of products must be fully informed of the above and answer reasonable questions of consumers with clarity and accuracy.

A. Advertising – Promotion

  1. Advertising and promotion must comply with applicable law.
  2. In any case the following shall apply:
    i. Advertising messages and all information provided by companies should be characterized (as applicable and as much as possible by the medium used) by clarity as to the identity of the company, the properties and the final price of the advertised product, or, if that it is not possible, to estimate it in a language that is simple and comprehensible to the consumer, so that the latter is able to evaluate the information provided and to proceed safely to the correct decision at his/her discretion regarding the purchase of products or services .
    ii. Advertisements or other offers must refrain from misleading or aggressive practices before, during and after a commercial transaction related to a particular product or service, which is directly or indirectly likely to mislead the consumer about the product or service being displayed.
    iii. The staff of the company that comes in direct contact with the consumer does not mislead or seek to mislead in any way with actions or omissions the consumers by giving wrong impressions about the service or product
    iv. The company does not provide incomplete or inaccurate information about the possibility of providing the service or selling the product to the consumer.
    v. Any advertising and promotion specifically aimed at a underage audience may not directly or indirectly incite them to acts of violence, the use of alcohol, tobacco products, toxic substances or any other form of behavior dangerous to their safety and health.
    vi. Companies comply with the age restrictions set by the current legislation regarding the promotion and sale of specific product categories.
    vii. Any advertising and promotions aimed at people with disabilities should ensure that they are accessible.

 Article 4

Protection of minors and other vulnerable groups of the population

  1. The staff of the company does not take advantage of the weakness of consumers belonging to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, minors, people who do not understand the Greek language well, or people with disabilities. Companies provide careful, accurate and objective descriptions of products and services specifically aimed at such individuals in a way that is understandable, comprehensible and fully accessible to them, so as not to mislead them as to their true size, value, nature, purpose, durability, performance and price of the product or service advertised.
  2. Especially for the minor consumers, the companies take care - as far as possible - for the formulation of the appropriate conditions of access to their websites according to the provisions of the applicable laws, as the case may be.

 Article 5

Transaction security and protection of personal data

A. Transaction security

  1. Companies take care of the security of transactions carried out using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
  2. The companies, in this context and in accordance with the provisions of the current legislation, make every effort, so that themselves or their partners use appropriate tools and measures depending on the category and type of their business activity and the type of data they collect and process (personal or not) and implement any appropriate measures to provide the legally prescribed security of electronic transactions (proportional to the various stages of their completion) and data (personal or not) collected and processed, as well as to inform traders about the basic parameters of the used security and confidentiality with special reference to the terms of use of the website.
  3. Companies shall use appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the confidentiality of the data they collect and process to the legally prescribed extent and in accordance with the nature of the products and services they provide.

B. Protection of personal data

  1. Companies must have and implement a comprehensible, true, legal, easily accessible and up-to-date Privacy Policy and inform consumers as required by applicable law and the Personal Data Protection Authority guidelines regarding this Personal Data Protection Policy.
  2. Collection, storage or processing of data which the law characterizes as sensitive is not allowed, i.e. data concerning racial or ethnic origin, political views, religious or philosophical beliefs, membership in an association, corporation and trade union organization, health, social welfare as well as related to criminal prosecutions or convictions, unless the terms and conditions set by the law and the Personal Data Protection Authority are met.
  3. Collection, processing, storage and use of other personal data may only take place when it is allowed by the current legal framework and always in accordance with the conditions provided by it.
  4. Regarding the use of "all types of cookies", in particular, their installation should be carried out after proper notification of the consumer and on the basis of his consent, in accordance with the law and the relevant instructions of the Personal Data Protection Authority.
  5. In case of non-consent/acceptance of "cookies", companies allow, if technologically feasible, the continued use of the website by the consumer, without sending cookies.
  6. Companies ensure that the personal data collected is not disclosed or transmitted to third parties, without the prior notification or consent of the person concerned, and/or in cases provided by law, always in accordance with the provisions of personal data protection legislation.
  7. Companies respect the wish of consumers not to be included in files intended for the purpose of making unsolicited commercial communications with human intervention (call) for the promotion and supply of products or services, if they have declared it to the provider available to the public.
  8. Companies provide consumers the opportunity to choose whether they wish to receive advertising messages and any kind of newsletters and in case of acceptance to have the possibility of free withdrawal of their consent and companies have the obligation not to forward new advertising messages and newsletters hereafter (unless the consent is provided again or the provisions of law are met).
  9. The consumer has the right to have direct access to information on the issues regarding his/her personal data, to oppose to their use in future promotions, to request and confirm their partial or total deletion from the company’s files, to request the correction or their completion, to be informed of the time and manner of the initial acquisition of his/her personal data by the company as well as to be informed about the applied methods of personal data protection.

 Article 6

Right of withdrawal for consumers

  1. The consumer has an inalienable right to unjustified and non-harmful withdrawal in accordance with the provisions of the current legislation.
  2. Before the consumer enters into a contractual agreement, the supplier must inform him/her, in a clear, unambiguous and comprehensible manner, in his/her own language, of his/her right to exercise an unjustified and non-harmful withdrawal within the legally prescribed period of fourteen (14) days, starting from the point in time determined by the law, as well as for the terms, conditions, exceptions and the procedure for exercising the right of withdrawal, but also for the consequences from the exercise, taking into account the particularity of each product/service, and providing a template withdrawal form.

 Article 7

Customer service

  1. The company ensures that it has the appropriate mechanisms (by telephone and/or e-mail) and adequate staff engaged in customer service, making reasonable efforts to inform them of their requests within the legal time limits per case.
  2. When the communication is made through a call center, the company ensures that the consumer does not stay in excessive waiting and, in any case, the charge of the call does not exceed the charges that apply to local calls. When the communication is made through the online contact form or company’s e-mail address, care is taken to send a response within a reasonable time from the receipt of the customer’s relevant request.

 Article 8

Online Alternative Resolution of Consumer Disputes

  1. Companies inform the consumers about the possibility of alternative resolution of consumer disputes that have arisen from online sale of products contracts or services by using the ADR entities registered in the Register in accordance with the joint ministerial decision 70330/2015.
  2. Companies, whether they are bound to use ADR or not, shall provide in an accessible manner, through their websites, an electronic link to the EU's Online Dispute Resolution Platform (ODR platform), in application of the provisions of Regulation (EU) 524/2013 through which the consumers submit their complaint, then forwarding it to the relevant ADR entity.

 Article two

  1. The Code is published on the companies’ websites in a place that can be easily located and accessed by the consumer.
  2. The Code does not restrict the right of suppliers' associations to impose additional obligations on their members and disciplinary or other measures.
  3. The staff of the sector companies informs the consumers about the existence of the Code and informs them about the ways in which they can find the text.

 Article three

This Decision is valid upon its publication in the Government Gazette.

This decision is to be published in the Government Gazette.

Athens, March 15, 2017

The Minister

DIMOS PAPADIMITRIOU