The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection and the European Consumer Center received complaints about the Vinted.pl platform of the Lithuanian company VINTED UAB. It is a service through which consumers can buy or sell things, especially used clothes and accessories.
Platforms like Vinted are becoming more and more popular with consumers. It corresponds to the idea of sustainable development and caring for the environment, which is expressed, among other things, in giving a second life to second-hand things. Therefore, it is very important that these sites respect consumer rights and ensure transparency and security of transactions. Unfortunately, in the procedure carried out, we found that VINTED, due to the lack of transparent information, was detrimental to the collective interests of consumers and could have contributed to the fact that they suffered financial losses. Doubts about VINTED’s practices do not only occur in the Polish market. The company’s activities are currently analyzed by the CPC (Consumer Protection Cooperation Network) – a cooperation network of the authorities of European countries, in which we also participate as an office – says Thomas Crostiny, Head of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.
In September 2021, the president of UOKiK filed a lawsuit against the company and brought two charges against it. They were related to abuses reported by consumers.
1. for sellers – Lack of information indicating that access to earned funds may be related to the need to fulfill additional requirements related to identity verification. If, at the request of the payment service provider – ADYEN Company – the consumer does not provide an ID, passport, driver’s license or bank statement, it may be possible for the company to block the funds from the sale. The company did not properly report the fact that the payment of funds may depend on the confirmation of identity. The consumer did not find out about this either from the regulations of the platform or at the stage of creating an electronic wallet in which money is collected from transactions made on Vinted.pl. The website’s regulations only indicated that funds can be transferred from the e-wallet to your bank account at any time. The message about the need for identity verification came too late – after the transaction had been completed. There were also no details about the requirements that the submitted documents must meet (for example, scans with some data in black or data without a bank logo were rejected).
Excerpt from the application: [w] In the regulations, there is nothing to do with the fact that if you do not agree to send a photo of your ID, your money will be blocked. I should have known that, if I had such knowledge, I wouldn’t sell things that way.
– It is unacceptable that when consumers decided to sell on the Vinted.pl platform and create an electronic wallet, they did not have clear, complete and reliable information about the necessity and details of identity verification. If they know that refusing to submit the required documents, which contain a lot of detailed and sensitive information, will lead to a loss of the earned money, they can look for another possibility of selling clothes – says Tomas Krustny, president of UOKiK.
It is up to consumers to decide whether or not they want to transfer their identity information and documents to a payment processor. The office does not question the possibility of verifying consumer data, and is satisfied with the lack of information about it at an early stage.
In April 2022, the company abandoned the questionable practice, which had been key to reducing the fine. Now, VINTED informs consumers of the obligations regarding identity verification in the regulations when registering on the site, as well as at the stage of creating an electronic wallet. The company has also updated the information in the Help Center and launched an additional information campaign regarding identity verification procedures. Consumers are also better informed about the guidelines that the submitted documents must meet.
2. for buyers – The problem is there is no information on how to buy without paying the Buyer Protection fee. It consists of a refund if the purchased item is not shipped or arrives damaged, as well as a secure payment guarantee. Although the company allows transactions without Buyer Protection, how to use this mode is not described anywhere. The buyer has to guess himself to click on the “Order an item” button and during the conversation with the seller to agree on the method of delivery of the purchased items and payment for them. On the other hand, clicking the Buy Now button is automatically associated with the Buyer Protection fee, which is 2.9 PLN plus 5 percent. the prices.
Part of the complaint: a violation of consumer rights was reported by VINTED, the owner of the vinted.pl portal, which consists of: (…) charging for the “protection” of transactions imposed by the portal without information on how and whether they can be canceled or refused To purchase Transaction Protection services.
– As a result of not informing consumers how to conduct a transaction without paying for Buyer Protection, many people may have to pay this fee, even though they do not need the service, because, for example, they have already checked the seller and have good experiences with it – As Tomas Crostini says.
The decision does not prejudge that the merchant should allow purchases without additional fees, but must provide information about this option, if provided. On the other hand, if buying with Buyer Protection is the only option, then the fee for this service must be included in the displayed price of the products, which is not – it is added at the last stage. The company – despite the pending actions – did not abandon the practice in question, so the head of UOKiK ordered its abandonment.
The total fines for both operations amount to more than PLN 5.3 million (5,360,447 PLN). In addition, the company must inform consumers of the decision issued and questionable practices on Vinted.pl and on Facebook.
The head of UOKiK also informed the head of the Office of Personal Data Protection about doubts about consumers’ demand for ID cards to be checked.
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