HOW TO: avoid sanctions for e-commerce in Bulgaria?In the last few years e-commerce has evolved from a marginal form of conducting business to become an ordinary way of participating in commercial transactions for the majority of people. That is why businesses that operate on the market through e-commerce must be aware of the rules that regulate this dynamic sector, in order to avoid unpleasant consequences and financial penalties.

Firstly, a cornerstone for e-commerce regulation is the Bulgarian Law for the Protection of Consumers (ZZP). Keep in mind that this piece of legislation, just like all similar legislation in the industrialized world, treats the consumer as the weaker side in a commercial transaction. For this reason, the law gives more rights to the consumer. That is why there exists, for example, a right to withdraw from certain consumer contracts which you won’t find in your business-to-business relations. Regulations regarding consumer protection apply only where one side in the commercial transaction is a business and the other side is a consumer, i.e. a physical person which acquires the goods and services for personal, non-commercial use.

In order to avoid sanctions, you must:
1) observe the general obligation to give adequate information about your company, as well as the goods or services that you provide. You must do this before the contract is concluded.
2) specify the content of the goods, as well as the way to properly use them. When there are risks which might stem from their use, this should also be mentioned. This, of course, does not absolve you of the general obligation that your goods be safe. The information should be given at least in Bulgarian and be easily understandable.
3) indicate the price, including all additional sums that are to be paid by the consumer. Whenever the price cannot be calculated in advance, you have to specify the way it will be calculated.
4) notify the consumer of the General Terms and Conditions and any subsequent changes to them.
5) specify the way in which the consumer can withdraw from the contract. This procedure must not be used to create obstacles which put the consumer in a situation where they cannot effectively exercise their right to withdraw. Keep in mind that the consumer may exercise this right for any reason within 14 days. They are counted starting from the day on which the consumer received the goods.
6) not state that a good or service will be available on the market for only certain period of time when this is not true.
7) give information about the commercial guarantee, if one is available. You must also be clear that the commercial guarantee is independent from the legal guarantee which the law establishes in the interest of the consumer.
8) respect the guarantees which the law gives to the consumer: to repair, replace, give a price reduction to, or refund nonconforming goods. Keep in mind that the consumer cannot directly terminate the contract and demand a refund. You may offer them to replace or repair the goods within a month, to which the consumer cannot object. Only if the non-conformity of the goods has not been removed within this period, or if three claims have been fulfilled can the consumer terminate the contract.

The sanctions for not complying with these obligations are applied by the Commission for the Protection of Consumers (KZP).

Of further relevance is the Law on Electronic Commerce (ZET). Here the law establishes an obligation for businesses to:
1) mark the messages you send via e-mail as unwanted, whenever the receiving party has not given prior consent. Bulgarian law allows businesses to freely send commercial messages to legal entities, unless they have stated that they do not wish to receive them, and they are listed in a special registry kept by the KZP. The messages must be recognisable as having a clear commercial nature and provide for the easy identification of the sender. Sadly, Bulgarian law prohibits the sending of commercial messages to consumers without their prior consent.
2) indicate the General Terms and Conditions of your service and the content of the contract in a way that allows for their retention and reproduction.

Lastly, you must observe the rules regarding data protection. You may retain information or receive access to information kept on the consumer’s device, whenever you provide them clearly and fully with the information envisaged in Art. 13 GDPR. You must also give them the option to refuse the retention of this information and the access to it. These requirements do not apply when the information is necessary to provide a service which has been explicitly requested by the consumer. Likewise, these requirements are not mandatory with regard to further retention of or access to the information, provided the consumer has not objected.
You must provide them at all times with the option to receive information about data relating to them that you are storing. Whenever you intend to process data for a purpose which is different from the one for which the data was collected, you must provide the consumer with the information envisaged in art. 13, par. 2 GDPR. To avoid unnecessary complications, you may outline the purposes for which the data will be processed upon collecting it. However, keep in mind that the purposes have to be specified. A general agreement on the part of the consumer is not valid.
The general principle is that personal data can be stored for a period which does not extend beyond what is necessary to fulfill the purposes for which the data was collected. If the data administrator cannot determine the period, they must give the consumer the criteria which will be used. Nevertheless, specific periods for specific purposes can be established by law.

The sea of consumer protection can prove to be quite tricky to navigate. However, if you observe these basic principle, you have a good chance of not running foul of the authorities.

If you’d like to make your online business compliant with the legal requirements, do not hesitate to contact us: your online legal consultant!

Vladimir Slavov

1Legal.Net Blog © 2019

Materials published on this blog are copyrighted. No part of them can be copied or used without the express permission of the author.
Tags: HOW TO?