why Vente-Privee.com is accused of cheating on prices

The e-commerce site Vente-Privée.com is in the crosshairs ofthe Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF). The latter announced, Thursday, January 10, to have transmitted tou the prosecutor of the French Republic the conclusions of his investigations, begun in 2016, concerning advertisements deemed to be misleading in terms of site price reductions.

Reason: she blames him for giving the customer the illusion of realizing good business by setting up reference prices fictifs. The latter is a price used, as a reference, by an individual to appreciate the price of a product. More concretely, consumers often express a judgment on a price such as: "this product is too expensive or too cheap compared to ..." It is from this price-reference that is calculated the rate of reduction practiced for a promotion. Those practiced by Vente-Privée.com did not correspond to any economic reality and were used to display particularly attractive promotion rates and thus attract customers, underlines the (DGCCRF).

Vente-Privée.com denies any attempt at fraud

The investigation of the DGCCRF was based on findings made on the site and the analysis of documents seized during searches carried out in June 2016 on the premises of the company. Justice, to which the file has been transmitted, will have to "give the follow-up that it deems necessary to the alleged deficiencies noted by the DGCCRF ", at indicated the institution. Vente-Privée.com incurs a fine of up to 10% of its average annual turnover for the last three years.

For its part, the online sales company "strongly denies the implementation of fraudulent strategies to build a fictitious reference price", said the company in an email. The company adds having, conversely, "ddeployed in recent years significant human and financial resources to verify the recommended prices of its many brands partners ".

A common practice

The sale on the internet, especially in the form of sale "Event"is the subject of special attention by the Fraud Directorate, which indicates that"Unfair practices of deceptive price reductions (...) skew consumer choices and disrupt the smooth functioning of markets [...] inducing unfair competition ". The DGCCRF has already announced, in February 2017, having opened litigation procedures against 19 e-commerce brands. These gave rise to the payment of € 2.4 million in fines in connection with criminal transactions.

In addition, since 2015, the reference price used to calculate a promotion has been "a new order allows traders to choose the reference price they want," says Grégory Caret, director of the Consumption Observatory UFC-Que Choisir on RTL. If the signs increase the price artificially, "it's disloyal, the consumer is deceived". "It is a common practice that has become widespread "continues Grégory Caret, particularly with the arrival in France of new commercial operations, like Black Friday, which have been added to traditional sales periods in France. During these operations, "there is no significant decrease in prices".

(With agencies)