30 June 2016 marked the end of the CMA’s presidency of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), a group of consumer protection authorities from nearly 60 countries.
Consumers increasingly shop online and across borders. They buy goods, music, ebooks, apps and services from overseas companies (sometimes without even realising it). They book travel, accommodation, and entertainment and events tickets for foreign holidays. They rely on reviews and are influenced by endorsements from consumers and businesses across the world.
In a global economy, consumers should be able to buy from anywhere in the world, safe in the knowledge that they are being treated fairly.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Some businesses don’t comply with the law. Consumers don’t get the information they need to make an informed decision or they can be misled and find they have paid for goods or services that they didn’t want or never receive.
That’s why ICPEN is so important. It brings together consumer protection enforcement authorities from across the world to tackle the problems which are affecting consumers.
Under the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) presidency, ICPEN has produced 3 sets of guidelines aimed at preventing the use of misleading or fake reviews and endorsements which many international enforcers have been tackling across the globe. The guidelines - for online review sites, traders and marketing professionals, and for digital influencers (bloggers, vloggers, tweeters and others) - should help businesses know which practices to avoid and which to adopt. In turn, this should mean consumers get the full picture and can trust that the opinions they read are genuine and unbiased.
This is just one example of how ICPEN, under the CMA Presidency, has brought enforcers together to tackle problems facing consumers across the globe by sharing information and working on common projects. You can read more about our actions and initiatives in our report.
The CMA and the other members of ICPEN will continue efforts to protect consumers under the 2016/17 German presidency in the coming year.