For the first time in Italy, the Antitrust Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato - “AGCM”), by applying the Consumer Code and Legislative Decree 70/2003 on e-commerce, has provided for the suspension of the dissemination in the Italian territory of the content of a website dedicated to the activities of e-commerce.

The case against the company that managed the site was born from multiple reports, submitted to the AGCM, that complained that the content was likely to mislead consumers, regarding the availability of the products offered for sale on the site, active in the fashion industry.

Amongst other things, the AGCM challenged (i) the failure to deliver to customers the goods purchased via the website, (ii) in case of delivery, the shipment of goods other than what was ordered, (iii) the lack of response by operators of the complaints from customers or of specific shipping codes proving to be fictitious, (iv) the failure to repay the amounts received by way of compensation in cases where non-delivery occurred, (v) the obstacle to the exercise of consumers’ contractual rights due to the failure to respond to complaints and the limited number of customer service operators, and (vi) failure to observe the rules of the mandatory consumer guarantee.

Following the investigation by the Special Unit for Market Protection of the Tax Police (Guardia di Finanza), the Authority maintained the unfair trade practices and the existence of the danger justifying a preliminary injunction. The Authority ordered the suspension of all activities aimed at disseminating site content and intimating service providers on which the site was placed to prevent access to it by users from Italy. The actual blocking of the site was then assured by the activity of the Guardia di Finanza, which led to the blockage of connections to the site from all over the country and the visibility of a web page containing a notice the contents of which were prepared by the Authority. For completeness, it must be said that the order was subsequently revoked, since the operator remedied the alleged circumstances.