Legal aspects of online price monitoring: (7 questions and 7 answers)

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legal aspects of online price monitoring

Once in a while our prospects ask us questions like ‘Is it legal to monitor prices online?‘.

Our answer to that question is always – of course, it is! We’re a serious business, employing over 100 full-time employees – we would never jeopardize so many jobs if we were having any doubts in legality of what we’re doing.

However, since we have noticed that there is a lack of documentation on the topic, we have decided to list what we have learned over time (keep in mind that Price2Spy has been in business since 2011 and that it currently has over 650 clients):

Q: Is it legal to monitor prices on someone else’s website? The prices are visible to anyone visiting the website.
A: Yes. The prices, along with other information displayed, are publicly available – to anyone visiting the website. This includes human visitors but also various bots.

Q: But is it legal to monitor such prices automatically?
A: Yes. In legal terms, it does not make any difference if you visited the website yourself and noted down the price in a notepad (or an Excel file), or you used a tool that automatically captures the price, and stores it for analytical purposes.

Q: Some websites have terms and conditions, which do not allow data to be used for other purposes than the website owner has foreseen. Again, is price monitoring on such websites legal?
A: Yes, as long as you do not explicitly accept such terms and conditions. In other words, a website cannot disallow you to read the data which is publicly open.

Q: Certain B2B websites do not show prices before I login to their website. Is it legal to monitor prices from such a website?
A: Does this website ask you to accept their terms and conditions when registering for such a B2B account? If so, please check such terms and conditions. Please note that this is the reason why Price2Spy will always ask you to supply credentials for B2B websites – we consider you the owner of such a B2B account and that maintaining it is your responsibility.

Q: I represent a brand that wants to monitor the prices of its own products on retail websites located in the EU. Is this legal?
A: Of course it is. Please check ‘Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union’ – Article 102 of TFEU

TFEU 102 says that the following is illegal:

  • (a) directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions;
    In short, collecting, monitoring and analyzing pricing data is by no means prohibited.

Q: Is there a market where it is legal for a brand to impose selling prices?
A: Yes, unlike the EU and most other countries worldwide, imposing prices on the market is perfectly legal in the US.

Q: Price2Spy is based in Serbia, and Serbia is outside of the EU. Does this make any difference to the legal aspects?
A: Practically – No. Although Serbia is not an EU member state yet, its laws are very much in line with the EU laws. Again, Price2Spy operates a business that is fully legal, both by the EU and Serbian laws, and we would never do anything that could jeopardize this position.

 

About Price2Spy

 

Price2Spy is an online service that provides comprehensive and suitable solutions for eCommerce professionals including; retailers, brands/manufacturers and distributors in order to stay profitable in the current competitive market conditions. If you want to learn more about what Price2Spy can do for your business, please get a personalized free demo or start your 30-day free trial.

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About Price2Spy Blog

This blog is a place for eCommerce professionals to discuss ideas, methodologies and strategies to compete more effectively in the ever more tightening world of online retail. We explore things like competitive price monitoring, competitor business intelligence, competitive pricing, and counter-intelligence in general.

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