Amazon Dash Buttons Ruled Illegal In Germany For... Making It Too Easy To Buy Stuff

from the can't-have-any-of-that-now dept

You can count me among those who don't see the value in those Amazon Dash buttons that got plenty of attention a few years back, allowing those who had the little single-button devices to re-order some consumable product with the push of a single button. Even if lots of people made fun of them at launch, Amazon has expanded them to many more brands. So, even if I don't see the value, it appears plenty of people do. Except, in Germany, they're now illegal, because apparently some people are upset that they make things too easy to order.

The ruling came after a regional consumer protection watchdog brought a case against Amazon, arguing that the Dash buttons violate laws that say shoppers should know what they are paying at the time of any transaction.

“We are always open to innovation. But if innovation means that the consumer is put at a disadvantage and price comparisons are made difficult then we fight that,” Wolfgang Schuldzinski, head of the consumer body, said in a statement.

Huh? If users decide to buy a button that lets them reorder, then... what's the problem here. Yes, they may end up paying more than other retailers, but it's the consumers who are making that decision, suggesting that they value the convenience more than the ability to hunt for the best deal.

This fits with other European legal trends, in which courts and regulators really don't seem to think the public ought to be able to make any decisions themselves about what they prefer online, and must be "protected" from their own decisions. What, exactly, is the benefit here? How are consumers better off if the solution they appear to want, which they had to pay for, is no longer considered legal?

I could (maybe?) understand if the argument was that Amazon was somehow leveraging its market position to push people into using these things, but I've seen no evidence that that's true at all. Indeed, I basically forgot these little buttons existed after hearing about them at launch. I get that European courts (and German ones, in particular) like to think they're protecting consumers more than the US, but in this case it makes no sense. If consumers feel ripped off by the buttons, they won't buy them (or they'll stop using them). Why do we need a court to make them illegal?

Filed Under: convenience, dash, dash button, germany, purchasing, transparency
Companies: amazon


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  1. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 16 Jan 2019 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re:

    WRT Amazon's very generous return policy, a couple years ago I ordered several Echos as Christmas presents, around $200 worth of hardware. They supposedly got delivered to my door, but they weren't there when I got home. Fedex GPS tracking confirmed that the deliveryman had in fact come by my place when he said he did, (apparently that's a thing now,) so either the deliveryman or one of my neighbors walked off with it.

    I contacted Amazon and reported what had happened, and they re-sent the whole thing free of charge, no questions asked. (I received it this time!)

    Then again, a device like that has to be activated to be useful, and I'm sure they had the serial numbers of the Echos on record. Whenever the thief tried to set one of them up, I bet it pinged their fraud department and they knew exactly who to send the cops after. But still, I thought that was really cool of them.


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