The Federal Law Against Unfair Competition (LCD)
Art. 3 (1)(S) LCD defines the information which must be provided by an online store.
“Anyone offering goods, work or services using electronic commerce without meeting the following conditions, is acting unfairly:
- indicate clearly and in full its identity and contact address, including e-mail,
- indicate the various technical steps resulting in the making of a contract,
- provide the appropriate technical tools making it possible to detect and correct entry errors before sending an order,
- immediately confirm the customer’s order by e-mail.”
(1) The online store site operator must state their company name, as listed in the trade register, their postal address and their e-mail address on the contacts page. Providing a telephone number is recommended. A simple contact form is not enough.
(2) The customer must be able to clearly determine, throughout the order process, which stage of the order they have reached. They must know when they have finally entered into the contract. To enter into the contract, using a button with clear wording is recommended, such as “Buy”, or “Order with payment obligation”. Conversely, wording of the type “Order”, “Continue”, “Complete”, “Next” or “Sign up” are not appropriate.
(3) It must be possible for contract details to be checked and, if necessary, corrected by the customer before entering into the contract. The customer must be able to view the contract they are entering into, particularly the quantity and type of product, the total order price and their billing/delivery details.
(4) The making and main elements of the contract must be confirmed to the customer electronically.
Art. 8 LCD forbids the use of improper commercial conditions:
“Anyone using general terms and conditions which, in contradiction of the rules of good faith, provide, to the detriment of the consumer, for a marked and unjustified disproportion between the rights and obligations arising from the contract, is acting unfairly.”
The seller must not draw up its T&Cs so that they serve only its own interests and expose the consumer to a situation of marked and unjustified disproportion.
Order on the Indication of Prices (OIP)
The Order on the Indication of Prices (OIP) applies to purchasing offers and offers comparable to a purchase which are made to consumers, and not business to business offers (B to B). It regulates the way in which prices must be indicated and everything which must be included in the price. Below we shall examine some points specific to e-commerce. For more detailed information, please refer to the brochure 2019 Practical Guide. Information brochures specific to certain sectors are also available.
For goods, it is necessary to indicate the actual price to be paid in Swiss francs, including non-optional supplements of any kind (= retail price, Art. 3 and 4 OIP). For measurable goods, the unit price must be indicated (= price per liter, kilogram, meter, etc., on which the retail price is based). A measurable good is a good whose retail price is determined according to the quantity sold. The price and all relevant information about the price must be clearly visible and easily legible alongside the illustrated/described goods (Art. 7 and 8 OIP). The price must appear in a font which is easily legible and clearly visible, in proximity to the product. It must not appear only after scrolling down the page or clicking on the link.
Non-optional supplements must be included in the price, as these are imperatively associated with the purchase of the goods and cannot be omitted. These include, for example, VAT, copyright loyalties, recycling duties for household appliances, etc.
Websites can indicate shipping costs separately, as these may vary depending on the size of the order, but they must also be clearly visible and easily legible. Websites may go about this, for example, by using a link located near the price, directing the browser to the page providing information about shipping charges (e.g. additional shipping charges).
Optional price supplements must be indicated clearly and transparently. If they form an integral part of the contract, the customer must give their express consent to this.
Supplements for payment by credit card are optional price supplements only if another method of payment which is free and commonly used in Switzerland is available. Failing this, these costs must also be included in the price.
The OIP applies to the services listed in Art. 10(1) OIP. For these services, this means indicating the actual price to be paid in Swiss francs, including non-optional supplements of any kind (Art. 10 (1) and (2) OIP). Tourist taxes may be indicated separately. Prices must be easy to find and easily legible (Art. 11 OIP). The website should clearly indicate the type (description) and unit of the services (number of people, hours, km, items, etc.) or the rates (hourly rate, rate per kilometer, percentage, etc.) to which the prices refer.
Special provisions are also set out in Art. 11a to 12 OIP for a certain number of services. Please refer to the information brochures specific to certain sectors.
When, in advertising, prices are mentioned or price ranges or price limits are given in figures, for all goods and all services, the actual prices to be paid including all non-optional supplements must be shown.
The advertising offer must be specified. In concrete terms, what the price relates to must be clearly indicated (number, weight, hourly rate, rate per kilometer, etc.). The goods and services must be described using their essential criteria (brand, type, sort, etc.). The price should therefore correspond to the product photograph or description. For advertising distributed electronically (e.g. on website home pages and banners, in e-mails or on smartphones), it is possible to link to a website to provide details of the offer, on the condition that the website is accessible with just one click.
Comparative prices and price reductions are authorized only under certain conditions and for a certain period of time. In this respect, please refer to the 2019 Practical Guide.
Data Protection Law
An e-commerce website is subject to the Federal Data Protection Law if sensitive data are collected about customers: