subscription to Twitter Blue violates European Union laws on unfair commercial practicesas reported to Business Insider an organism of control of the consumers of the bloc.
Specific, advertised subscription prices do not include taxeswhich violates the laws for the protection of community consumers, as a spokesman for the European control body has assured.
Twitter Blue is one of the emblematic projects of its new owner, Elon Musk, to make the social networking company profitable. It was implemented in European countries in February and March.
In countries that use the euro, Twitter Blue has an announced monthly price of 8 euros for the web app, a little more than the US$8 price. The advertised annual price for most EU users is €84compared to 84 US dollars.
However, the prices do not include the value added tax of each country, such as VAT in Spain. While in the United States sales tax is added to the advertised price at checkout, the EU requires companies to announce the total price including VAT.
That means Twitter users in Europe wouldn’t know the subscription could cost an extra €20 a year until Stripe’s checkout page automatically adds the tax after 1-2 seconds.
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Business Insider tested the Twitter Blue subscription process in the UK, Belgium and Germany. When paying, 20% VAT was added in all cases. VAT in the UK is 20%, in Belgium 21% and in Germany 19%.
The German website was initially showing €84 for an annual subscription, but increased by 20%, or €16.80, to €100.80, at checkout. The final price did not appear anywhere before paying.
Subscriptions to digital services such as Spotify, Netflix and YouTube include VAT in their advertised prices.
A spokesperson for the European Consumer Center in Ireland – part of a network of offices designed to protect consumers and co-funded by the European Commission – says they contacted their counterparts’ legal staff and got responses from Belgium, Germany, Croatia, Ireland and Malta, after being contacted by Business Insider.
“I can confirm that the indication of prices and associated promotions infringe articles 6 and 7 of the Directive about unfair commercial practices by companies in their relations with consumers,” he says.
The laws in question, which refer to deceptive acts and deceptive omissions, say that “a business practice will be considered deceptive if it contains false information and is therefore not true or, in any way, including the general presentation, misleads or may mislead the average consumer, even if the information is factually correct.
The legislation says that this includes “the price or the way of calculating it.”
The spokesman for the Irish consumer authority Ireland denounces that “when announcing prices, Twitter must indicate the final price including VAT“.
The ECC network works to advise consumers across borders and does not have coercive powers, which correspond to the competition and price regulators of each country.
Even after Brexit, in the UK, where Twitter Blue has been available since November, local law requires 20% VAT to be included in advertised prices.
People familiar with the workings of Britain’s competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, have told Business Insider that companies that do not include VAT in their advertised prices could be breaching UK consumer protection regulations.
When asked about Twitter Blue, the authority replied that it does not comment on specific companies.
Twitter also hasn’t responded to requests for comment from Business Insider.