Consumer rights watchdog fines classifieds website

The Consumer Rights Protection Center has fined companies SIA Internet and SIA SS, each has to pay a €15,000 fine for their unfair business practices, as the center's representative Sanita Gertmane told LETA.

The Consumer Rights Protection Center began to look into the business practices of SIA Internet and SIA SS after customers' complaints about the www.ss.lv classified ads portal increased sharply at the end of 2016.

The two companies were several times asked to halt their unfair business practices, but starting from April 2017, none of the companies responded to the Consumer Rights Protection Center's warnings anymore, therefore the center has fined both €15,000 and ordered them to eliminate all shortcomings in their business operations.

The Consumer Rights Protection Center has found that the ss.lv website does not offer users information about the actual provider of ss.lv services. While SIA Interent is indicated as the entity to get in touch with should clients experience any problems, the payments they make for ss.lv services actually go to SIA SS.

Furthermore, SIA Internet and SIA SS are not concerned about effective and quick communication with their clients - many clients' inquiries were replied late or not replied at all.

The portal only informs the clients about the minimum price of its services, but not the end price, or how the end price is calculated. Likewise, it makes no mention whether the final price includes taxes.

Clients are offered no information about what will happen to the remaining amount in their account should they be banned from using the website, and so on.

The companies may appeal the Consumer Rights Protection Center's fines to the Administrative District Court within one month.

As reported, ss.lv was shut down at the State Revenue Service’s request at the beginning of August.

The Revenue Service decided to halt operations of ss.lv, Latvia's largest classified advertisements website, as the portal refused to inform the revenue service about automobile dealers who had failed to register with the tax authority.

The State Revenue Service earlier found that the ss.lv website was being used for illegal business operations by persons buying and selling automobiles who had not registered with the Revenue Service.

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