Irish Watchdog says no ‘dark patterns’ in retail sweep

Ireland’s Consumer Protection Agency says a search of 16 high street retailers to look for “dark patterns” found no infringements.

dark pattern is a deliberate attempt to lure a buyer or user into a choice they otherwise would not make. Often it’s about hiding cheaper options or making it very difficult to unsubscribe from a service.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) took the action along with 25 other European consumer protection authorities, carrying out a total of 399 sweeps across the EU.

While the CCPC declined to name the “well-known” Irish high street retailers, the overall action targeted retailers selling clothing, electronics, household goods, cosmetics and groceries.

While the Irish regulator found no breaches, the European initiative discovered that of the 399 websites checked, 42 websites used fake countdown timers with deadlines to purchase certain products, while 54 websites directed consumers to choices such as subscribing to more expensive products or delivery options. either through their visual design or their choice of language.

23 sites hid information with the aim of tricking consumers into subscribing, while 70 sites “hid key information or made it less visible to consumers”.

“This included, for example, information on delivery costs, the composition of products or the availability of a cheaper option,” said the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC), which consists of 23 EU member states, Norway and Iceland.

The CPC said the sweep also included the apps from 102 of the websites examined, 27 of which also used at least one of the three dark pattern categories.

“Brands and retailers should be aware that dark patterns such as those identified in these EU-wide sweeps are unacceptable and that consumer protection laws apply,” said Kevin O’Brien, member of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

“It is vital that consumers can make informed decisions about the products they buy. In an Irish context, no clear breaches were found by the select number of Irish traders checked, but we will continue to monitor traders selling online and ensure they are complying with the law.” Irish Watchdog says no ‘dark patterns’ in retail sweep

Fry Electronics Team

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