Wednesday, July 11th 2018

German Court Bans Vague Dates like "Coming Soon" in Marketing and Sales

Vague dates like "coming soon" or "shipping soon" to lure pre-orders is outlawed in Germany, after a Munich Regional High Court ruling, in which a litigant took reseller MediaMarkt to court over excessive delivery delays. For any retailer to sell a pre-order for a commodity or a digital software license (i.e. take payment before product launch date), the reseller must specify the exact date of on which the product will be delivered. In other words, the onus is on the reseller to specify when a buyer will have the product or digital license in their possession, before making the sale, and ensure that the product reaches the consumer on or before the specified date.

Resellers that are unable to specify a delivery date would be breaking the law by soliciting pre-orders. The new ruling bolsters Germany's consumer rights laws, which are among the strictest in the world. German consumers are already within their rights to return a product they don't like for no reason, within a finite amount of time after the sale. If a retailer delivers later than the specified delivery date, the consumer can refuse the product and become eligible for a full refund. Perhaps the biggest impact of this ruling will fall on the real-estate industry. Real-estate developers taking payments from home-buyers before the completion of the development (i.e. transfer of possession) of a property, must be ready to cough up a full-refund (adjusted by inflation), if the buyer doesn't get possession on the agreed delivery date.
Source: ComputerBase.de
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38 Comments on German Court Bans Vague Dates like "Coming Soon" in Marketing and Sales

#1
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Great news, this is a good, common sense ruling. Now, if that disastrous brexit doesn't happen, it will apply to sunny Britain too.
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#2
altcapwn
Damn what will EA Games do.
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#3
dj-electric
"altcapwn said:
Damn what will EA Games do.
CDPR is sinning the same sin, friend.
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#4
xorbe
Instead of selling the game early as a pre-order, they will just tap dance around it with "buy a reservation which may be later used to purchase a game" or some such.
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#5
the54thvoid
"dj-electric said:
CDPR is sinning the same sin, friend.
Only if they are selling it as pre-order. Are they? (That's a genuine question).
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#6
yogurt_21
"xorbe said:
Instead of selling the game early as a pre-order, they will just tap dance around it with "buy a reservation which may be later used to purchase a game" or some such.
like a season pass or game credits or tokens.

yup the mechanism to get around it already exists.
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#7
Basard
Maybe they should specify the 'quality' of the product to upon release... like, if they wanna charge forty bucks, the game has to have a metascore of 80% or better.... fifty bucks, it has to score 90%, etc.... 15 bucks and you can just release a potato. Better get them dates right though, or else!

(sarcasm)
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#8
Totally
Oh boy sucks for those guys behind star citizen their entire business model is currently built around those two words. Also ironic, their EU studio is located in Germany.
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#9
R0H1T
I wonder if this could apply to that thing called STAR something, something? Looks like Totally beat me to it :pimp:
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#10
altcapwn
"dj-electric said:
CDPR is sinning the same sin, friend.
"the54thvoid said:
Only if they are selling it as pre-order. Are they? (That's a genuine question).
Nope they aren't last time I checked, they say they're waiting to give something to the players before they choose to pre-order.
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#11
xorbe
"yogurt_21 said:
like a season pass or game credits or tokens.

yup the mechanism to get around it already exists.
Oh I got it, you'll buy a $59 promotional CD with a video trailer, which includes a free digital copy of the game when available.
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#12
Totally
Also another bonus it kills season passes in their current form. For example, what is EA was doing with season passes, tallying up how much they made from pass sales and that was the budget for the "future dlc." Now they have to actually announce specific dlc with dates they cannot continue such shenanigans unless they pull passes for the German market.
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#13
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Nevermind EA/CDPR, this is bad news for products on Kickstarter, Fig, Indiegogo, and so on. They're always preorders and the date given (usually just a year, half year, or quarter year) is often missed. Doesn't mean they deserve litigation if they fail to meet the deadline. Either Germany is going to be barred from participating in those services, what's delivered on the required date will be completely unplayable, or they'll start giving dates like December 31, 9999, which are completely useless to everyone but an impossible deadline to meet. This is a terrible ruling.
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#14
Vya Domus
So just announce a release date, cancel it and then rinse and repeat till you get there.
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#15
Dragonsmonk
"FordGT90Concept said:
Nevermind EA/CDPR, this is bad news for products on Kickstarter, Fig, Indiegogo, and so on. They're always preorders and the date given (usually just a year, half year, or quarter year) is often missed. Doesn't mean they deserve litigation if they fail to meet the deadline. Either Germany is going to be barred from participating in those services, what's delivered on the required date will be completely unplayable, or they'll start giving dates like December 31, 9999, which are completely useless to everyone but an impossible deadline to meet. This is a terrible ruling.
That is different though. The "AGB"s are stating that they might not always be able to deliver on time and you agree to that. Naming a quarter, half year or year is also a deadline and should be met as well though. Even on kickstarter. What you are also forgetting is that this is more aimed at the (advertising) companies who have no idea when that product is to be released, but already want to make money out of it. This will only affect you if you don't inform people about the delay anyhow. Most people I know will be happy if they are kept in the loop and with major delays you always, in Germany, have been able to step back from your purchase anyhow - no change there as such.

"Vya Domus said:
So just announce a release date, cancel it and then rinse and repeat till you get there.
It depends on how they phrase the ruling in the first place. If you just "cancel and then announce a new date" all the time it will be the same as above with the excessive delays.
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#16
Vya Domus
Honestly this is another non-issue if you ask me. Instead of zeroing in on the actual problem which is the act of pre-ordering something , in other words trying to sell a product that does not yet exist even if it has a release date or that has received a great deal of false advertising. It seems to me all of these laws remain blind to things that actually matter , make no mistake they'll never truly hurt corporations , it's not in their interest. They'll just make you think they do from time to time with things like this.
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#17
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
"Dragonsmonk said:
That is different though. The "AGB"s are stating that they might not always be able to deliver on time and you agree to that. Naming a quarter, half year or year is also a deadline and should be met as well though. Even on kickstarter. What you are also forgetting is that this is more aimed at the (advertising) companies who have no idea when that product is to be released, but already want to make money out of it. This will only affect you if you don't inform people about the delay anyhow. Most people I know will be happy if they are kept in the loop and with major delays you always, in Germany, have been able to step back from your purchase anyhow - no change there as such.
Pre-orders don't charge the customer until the order is fulfilled (the date is utterly unimportant because people are free to cancel their pre-order whenever they want). Only crowdfunding breaks that mold by charging when the campaign ends. The risk of the order never being fulfilled in crowdfunding is spelled out clearly by the crowdfunding website.
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#18
Dragonsmonk
"FordGT90Concept said:
Pre-orders don't charge the customer until the order is fulfilled (the date is utterly unimportant because people are free to cancel their pre-order whenever they want). Only crowdfunding breaks that mold by charging when the campaign ends. The risk of the order never being fulfilled in crowdfunding is spelled out clearly by the crowdfunding website.
Pre-orders in retail charge you right there and then. If I am not mistaken Steam, etc. do as well, not sure though as I don't ever pre-order.
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#19
Midland Dog
thats the most german thing i have ever heard, "coming in approximately 9 days, 2 hours, 15 minutes and 2 seconds"
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#20
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
"Dragonsmonk said:
Pre-orders in retail charge you right there and then. If I am not mistaken Steam, etc. do as well, not sure though as I don't ever pre-order.
Even if Steam did and you cancelled before it releases, you'd get a full refund.
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#21
Brusfantomet
"FordGT90Concept said:
Nevermind EA/CDPR, this is bad news for products on Kickstarter, Fig, Indiegogo, and so on. They're always preorders and the date given (usually just a year, half year, or quarter year) is often missed. Doesn't mean they deserve litigation if they fail to meet the deadline. Either Germany is going to be barred from participating in those services, what's delivered on the required date will be completely unplayable, or they'll start giving dates like December 31, 9999, which are completely useless to everyone but an impossible deadline to meet. This is a terrible ruling.
I do not think it will be a problem since you technically are not buying a product on Kickstarter. You are "investing" in a project, it’s just that some "investments" gives you a product.

Massdrop on the other hand, that is a purchase.
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#22
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Investment implies a return on investment and crowdfunding doesn't do that (exception being buying shares in a game at Fig). Crowdfunding is largely based on preorders.
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#23
Totally
"FordGT90Concept said:
Investment implies a return on investment and crowdfunding doesn't do that (exception being buying shares in a game at Fig). Crowdfunding is largely based on preorders.
Most of the them, well the successful campaigns at least have a set time period or date they expect to ship or launch their product they'd still be safe. The ones that would be in trouble are the campaigns that "sell a dream" and then evaporate after the goal has been met.
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#24
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
The OP makes it clear they need a specific date. Most crowdfunding campaigns only have a year and at best, a quarter. The date often slips because of unforeseen issues (e.g. Antsy Labs' Fidget Cube because of far greater preorder numbers than they anticipated).


"Totally said:
The ones that would be in trouble are the campaigns that "sell a dream" and then evaporate after the goal has been met.
No more trouble than they're in any way (usually bankruptcy proceedings). I really don't see any value in this ruling because the specific case, should circumstances warrant it, will be litigated eventually anyway.
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#25
Brusfantomet
"FordGT90Concept said:
Investment implies a return on investment and crowdfunding doesn't do that (exception being buying shares in a game at Fig). Crowdfunding is largely based on preorders.
The money spent on crowdfunding is not a purchase, and therefore not a preorder.

Also note the citation marks on the word investment?
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