For its analysis , the German Commercial Alliance surveyed a total of 524 online retailers. Of these, 84% stated that the competitive pressure in the industry has increased. In 2017, 28% received at least one warning and 13% received up to three or more. The reasons for this, the association explained, include a faulty legal notice, non-transparent price information, or unfair advertising claims. Indeed, competition law was the most common source, accounting for 57% of the warnings. For many, however, that does not seem to be enough. The number of warnings that ended up in court tripled last year, and it could continue to rise. The new EU General Data Protection Regulation will enter into force on May 25. The regulation regulates the handling of personal data and sets out severe penalties.
The German Commercial Alliance demands greater cooperation in the industry. So far it is "unfortunately a frequent occurrence" for competitors to get warned because of frivolous violations such as typing errors. The specially founded "FairCommerce" initiative is said to have already been signed up to by more than 50,000 advocates.
According to a report by the MDR (Central German Broadcasting) on the occasion of the publication of the study, warnings can often threaten the company’s existence. The warnings themselves are actually free of cost, but once attorneys get involved they become expensive. "It’s a lucrative business," said the MDR.