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Court bans Amazon’s Dash buttons in Germany

With the Dash buttons Amazon wanted to enable purchases at the push of a button. The WLAN button is valid for one product offered by Amazon. If it is pressed, this triggers a chargeable order of the respective article. Amazon used to advertise the button as a simple and intelligent solution for purchasing permanently used products – for example, if the detergent runs out, new ones can be ordered at the push of a button. This would eliminate the usual purchasing procedure.

The service was available as soon as a dash button was purchased, an app was installed and a prime subscription was taken out. The purchase price of the Dash button was offset against the first purchase made through it. The service has been available in Germany since 2016.

Consumer protection center sued against Dash buttons

Consumer protectors had warned the US company after the introduction of the buttons because they considered the button press orders to be incompatible with German legislation. After the Group refused to sign a cease-and-desist declaration, a lawsuit was filed. In the first instance, the Munich Regional Court ruled in favour of the consumer protector, whereupon Amazon appealed and thus brought the case before the second instance.

The plaintiff consumer centre criticised, for example, that no clear information about price and goods was provided at the push of a button. The selection of the product associated with the button may be months before the button is pressed – by then the customer may have forgotten the exact details again. In addition, the Dash buttons do not indicate that a chargeable order is triggered at the push of a button.

Supreme Court declares Dash buttons not legally compliant

The judges of the Munich Higher Regional Court now largely agreed with this argumentation and made it clear that Amazon had to inform about price and goods immediately before sending the order, which is not the case with an order via the Dash buttons. In addition, a clause in the Terms of Use was found to be inadmissible. Through this clause, Amazon assured itself of the right to change the terms of the contract – which meant that Amazon could change price and actually shipped goods without having to inform the customer beforehand. Thus, it is never clear to the customer which product to order at which price by pressing the button. The Higher Regional Court did not allow an appeal. Amazon thus only has the option of lodging an appeal with the Federal Supreme Court.

Amazon criticised the ruling as hostile to innovation and announced that it would appeal. The complaining consumer centre resisted the accusation of preventing progress. Board member Wolfang Schuldzinski stated that the consumer centre was always open to innovations, but would do all it could to prevent them if the innovation consisted of discriminating against consumers and making it more difficult for them to compare prices.

Amazon must now design the dash buttons in a legally compliant way or remove them from the market.

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Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Berlin.

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