The majority of websites selling games, books, videos and music for downloading do not comply with consumer protection rules, the results of an EU-wide screening, published on 6 December 2012 by the European Commission, have shown. This is all the more worrying, the Commission says, since these sites often target children. National competent authorities will now contact the companies concerned to ask them either to explain themselves or to correct their websites.

National authorities in 26 member states (Ireland has not participated), Norway and Iceland took part in the sweep' on 333 sites, of which 159 sell online games: 254 sites (76%) require further investigation, because they are suspected of not respecting rules on long-distance sales, unfair commercial practices, e-commerce and abusive contractual clauses. Out of 55 sites selling games for children, 39 (71%) did not conform to EU legislation.

The report criticises the facts that the final cost of a purchase is often unclear and hidden in a mass of contractual information and that young customers are enticed by games that are advertised as free but involve payment at a later stage.

A total of 230 sites (69%) contained abusive clauses either because they exempted the retailer from any responsibility in case of damage to the consumer's equipment caused by downloading, or because they prevented the consumer from exercising their right to appeal (legally or otherwise), or deprived...

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