No more geoblocking in the EU

Pay more for the same shoes just because you order from Germany? The EU has now banned that. But not for everything. Here you can check when the new regulation really brings you something. Anyone who buys something on holiday in France pays no more or less than anyone who lives in France.

But online things have been different so far: many online merchants have read from your IP address where you want to place an order – and then shown you different prices. Or you can be redirected to another version of their website. This is called geoblocking. The good news: This is no longer possible! The bad news is there are exceptions.

Where is the geoblocking ban of no use to me?

Delivery: You can now buy in other European online shops for the same price as all other Europeans. The catch: The online retailer doesn’t have to send you what you bought. All he has to do is offer you to pick up the goods yourself. Another option is to have your order delivered by a delivery or collection service.

Private purchases: Unfortunately, the geoblocking ban does not apply to things you buy from private sellers. For example, if you buy a smartphone from someone on platforms such as Ebay or Amazon, they don’t have to offer you the same price as people from their country.

The situation is different if you buy the items directly on Ebay or Amazon. The platforms are dealers themselves and have to comply with the prohibition.

Why is geoblocking bad?

Geoblocking ensures that online shopping within the EU is not fair. At least so far. Because: Everyone gets different prices and conditions – depending on where he or she orders from. In the future, however, all Europeans should be equally entitled. The merchants should also be encouraged to offer their goods not only in their own country, but also EU-wide.

  • Downloads & Streaming: You want to download a computer game? Or did you buy an e-book or a movie online? Then you may still have to pay more from Germany than from another EU country. Or that in the worst case you can’t download it from Germany at all. A good example is Netflix. That’s exactly how it works with music titles, by the way.
  • Flights: Simply book a flight on another website and save money? Also doesn’t work with the geoblocking ban anymore! Airline tickets are – just like train tickets and other transport services – excluded from the ban. Too bad!

What advantages do I have now?

  • Hotels: In the future, hotels will have to treat us as if we were from the country itself. Example: Anyone booking a hotel in Italy can now also book on the Italian side – at the Italian price.
  • Car Rental: That’s exactly how it should be with a car rental company. From now on we pay the price that the locals pay. Not a cent more!
  • Ticketshops: You want to go to a festival abroad? Or do you want a concert of your favourite band in London? No problem: The price is the same! This is not only true for concerts, but also for events like football matches.
  • Payment: Online merchants can still decide for themselves which payment methods they accept in their shop. But if a merchant offers a certain payment method, he must do the same for all EU customers.
    What’s the next step?

The last word on geoblocking has not yet been spoken: Until 2020 the EU wants to observe how online shops in the EU implement the geoblocking ban. Then they also want to decide whether the regulation will then be extended to include things that are not yet included in the ban.