E-Commerce

E-commerce: buy now button entitled “send order” ruled illegal

Under e-commerce law, strict rules apply to the design of commercial websites. It is important that the “buy now” button clearly indicates to customers that by clicking it, they enter a financial obligation.

E-commerce: buy now button entitled “send order” ruled illegal ©-Thomas-Jansa-Fotolia

E-commerce: buy now button entitled “send order” ruled illegal ©-Thomas-Jansa-Fotolia

Buy now button

Online businesses should ensure they comply with e-commerce regulations by clearly displaying the “buy now” button. If online traders fail to abide by e-commerce regulations, they could receive warning letters from competitors.

Judges in Germany take a strict approach when it comes to the design of order now buttons.

In a recent case, heard by the Higher Regional Court (Hamm), an online toy trader was found guilty of incorrectly displaying the order now button.

The case was brought by a competitor who thought that the term “send order” used by the toy trader was insufficient to demonstrate to consumers the obligatory nature of placing an order.

The court came to the conclusion that the term “send order” breached § 312g(3) German Civil Code as it did not indicate clearly to consumers that they are entering an obligation to pay.

Only words such as “buy now” or other similarly clear formulations convey the legal consequences involved. In the judges’ opinion, the words “send order” did not go far enough in informing consumers of the consequences of their actions.

As a result, the toy trader was ordered to pay the competitor’s legal costs amounting to more than 750 euros.

Care with wording

The result of this case is no surprise. It follows judgments of other courts, in particular that of the Regional Court (Berlin) in which the term “Click here to register! (travel contract and payment)” was also considered insufficient (judgment from 17.7.2013; case ref. 97 O 5/13).

Conclusion

Online businesses should exercise care when designing their websites. The courts take a strict approach on the information displayed to consumers. Buy now buttons should only contain the words “buy now” or other similarly clear phrases.

Phrases such as “send order” or “click to register” are insufficient and can lead to warning letters from competitors.

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Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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