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Price comparisons and cost of the means of payment

The German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) issued an interesting ruling in the summer that affects all price comparison sites, whether for computer games, vacations, flights, apartments or other popular online shopping items.

Under the AZ: I ZR 250/20, the court ruled that it would be illegal to advertise a price if it only applies to one or a few (non-common) payment methods, and the price is therefore higher when paying with other payment methods. Experience has shown that this is likely to be the case with many search engines, for example, for license keys for computer games. Even the defendant’s objection that it was merely a service charge did not move the highest civil court to a different decision. According to the BGH, such a flat rate also constitutes a charge from the consumer’s point of view. In the case at hand, a flight comparison website displayed a price in the comparison view that only applied when paying with a certain credit card and increased when another payment method was selected later.

In the present case, the BGH confirmed a violation of the obligation to indicate the final price to be paid pursuant to Art. 23 para. 1 sentence 2 of Regulation (EC) No. 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air transport services in the Community, against the obligation pursuant to § 312 para. 4 No. 1 BGB to offer a common and reasonable free payment option and against the prohibition under § 312 para. 4 No. 2 BGB of the agreement of a payment method fee that exceeds the costs incurred by the entrepreneur through the use of the payment method.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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