January 21, 2019
A regional court in Munich recently ruled that Amazon’s click-to-purchase Dash buttons for Prime members violate German consumer protection legislation. Based on the contention that the thumb-sized, adhesive Dash buttons do not always provide the latest pricing information, the court ordered Amazon to halt taking purchase orders through the Wi-Fi-connected devices. The decision follows a case brought against Amazon by a German consumer protection watchdog group that says it took action after fielding complaints by consumers. Germany is Amazon’s second largest market.
“We are always open to innovation,” explained Wolfgang Schuldzinski, head of the consumer group. “But if innovation means that the consumer is put at a disadvantage and price comparisons are made difficult then we fight that.”
“Amazon began rolling out Dash buttons in 2015 as a one-click ordering service for popular products — from toilet paper to laundry detergent — in its latest bid to beat local grocery stores,” reports Engadget. “By mid-2017, Amazon said that more than 600 brands had Dash buttons and that four buttons get pushed every minute by customers.”
The small Dash devices pair with Amazon’s mobile app and feature a product’s logo, but arguably do not provide sufficient information about the product or its price, according to the watchdog group. “The Munich court found that Amazon breached e-commerce rules because it reserves the right to change features of the order, such as price, delivery cost and even product brand,” explains Engadget.
Reuters notes that, “Separately, Amazon is under investigation by Germany’s antitrust authority, which is looking into whether the company is exploiting its market dominance in its relations with third-party retailers who use its website as a marketplace.”
Amazon denies violating German law with its Dash buttons, describing the decision as “hostile to innovation,” and plans to appeal.