Slovakia: The Slovak Trade Inspectorate’s list of risky e-shops and the sale and purchase of filter face half masks during the Coronavirus pandemic

The Slovak Trade Inspectorate regularly publishes information about websites that it considers risky due to non-compliance with certain legal obligations, as well as problematic exercising of consumer rights and individual claims.

The inclusion of a website on its list of risky e-shops is only a recommendation for consumers to carefully consider purchasing on the website (the latest version of the list, updated on 2 April 2020, is available here.) However, the fact that an online store is not listed does not automatically mean that buying items from such a store is safe.

In connection with the emergency situation related to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on retail sales, sales via e-shops have increased and, unfortunately, the number of rogue traders and e-shops has also increased proportionately. All the more striking is the fact that many dishonest entrepreneurs are abusing the situation, offering low-quality personal protective equipment or their counterfeits, precisely in connection with the pandemic.

Websites may be classified as risky e-shops for the following reasons:

  • Missing information about the e-shop operator/seller: it is not clear from the website with whom the consumer concludes a purchase contract and against whom he can thus exercise his/her consumer rights;
  • Missing T&Cs, lack of a complaint procedure, including information on to whom and where to send claims and return goods;

  • Unfulfilled information obligations, in particular concerning the possibility of withdrawal from the contract within 14 days without giving a reason;

  • T&Cs or a complaint procedure in conflict with the law;

  • A high number of consumer complaints that the Slovak Trade Inspectorate records related the e-shop;

  • Warnings about the risk of the e-shop by other EU member states’ supervisory authorities;

  • The e-shop gives the impression that it is a Slovak operator/seller, but in fact it is operated by a non-EU entity, which may make it significantly difficult to exercise consumer rights (e.g. withdrawal without giving a contract reason, complaint ....); or

  • The e-shop operator/seller is in bankruptcy proceedings and consumers must submit their claims in an appropriate form - bankruptcy).

As of 6 April 2020, throughout the duration of the current crisis situation, the sale and purchase of filter face half masks of categories FFP2 (protection against organic and inorganic particles (slightly toxic particles)) and FFP3 (protection against organic, inorganic particles and biological particles (viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.)) is prohibited (simplified) to consumers. However, offering them is not prohibited by law in order to inform authorised persons of the offer of such personal protective equipment available on the market.

The seller must be able to justify and document every single sale, and only to authorised persons, as well as to prove this fact to the SlovakTrade Inspectorate during a subsequent inspection. The buyer must convince the seller, and answer the authority's questions that he/she is an authorised person. Due to the large number of individuals who may acquire FFP2 and FFP3respirators, the law does not specify any method for proving their legitimate purchase.

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