France asks search engines and app stores to remove Wish – TechCrunch

Several French ministers have issued a joint declaration announcing that it has asked the major search engines and mobile app stores operating in France to completely hide the Wish website and mobile app. Wish is a popular e-commerce platform that primarily references products from merchants based in China. It does not hold inventory because products are shipped directly from merchants to customers.

Last year, the French administration in charge of consumer rights and fraud opened an investigation into Wish. At the time, the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) suspected that it was a bit too easy to mislead consumers and sell counterfeit products on Wish, such as sneakers and perfumes with images incorrectly showing famous brand logos.

The French administration then ordered 140 different products from Wish – most of them were imported products. This time they wanted to know whether these products were safe or not.

Ninety-five percent of the toys they acquired on the platform did not comply with European regulations – 45% of them were deemed unsafe. When it comes to electronics, 95% of them should not be available in Europe either, and 90% of them were dangerous in one way or another.

And even the cheap costume jewelry sold on the platform presented a risk: 62% of the items ordered are considered dangerous. Again, these measurements are based on a very small sample of 140 products.

When Wish is notified that it is selling dangerous goods, those products are taken off the market within 24 hours as scheduled. And yet, “in most cases these products are still available under a different name, and sometimes even from the same vendor. The company does not keep any logs related to transactions of non-compliant and dangerous products, ”said the French Ministry of the Economy in its press release.

According to the same survey, when Wish informs customers that they have purchased an unsafe product, it does not state the reason for the recall of the product.

In July 2021, the French administration in charge of consumer rights and fraud notified Wish and asked it to comply with European regulations on e-commerce and product safety. The administration gave them two months’ notice before acting.

Four months later, the French government takes advantage of recent changes in European regulations to dereference or block problematic sites and applications. It’s a convoluted process, but the Ministry of the Economy has asked the French administration in charge to ask search engines and application stores to dereference Wish. This is going to take a little while – at the time of writing, Wish is still available in the App Store, and you can still find the Wish website in Google search results.

After that, Wish will be banned from the shadows in France. The website will still be available and the app will still work if you already have it on your phone. But you won’t see it in the App Store, Play Store, or Google search results.

If the French administration believes that Wish has implemented the appropriate changes to comply with French regulations, it could lift the shadowban. With this radical decision, France sets a precedent and shows once again that the web is becoming more and more fragmented. In this case, he says he is acting in the best interests of consumers.

It will also be interesting to see if the next European digital services law will have a bigger impact on dropshipping as a whole. Europe is expected to revise the 2000 Electronic Commerce Directive with the Digital Services Act.

Update: A Wish spokesperson sent me the following statement:

At Wish, we are committed to providing a positive user experience and a big part of that is making quality products available to our users.

Although as a marketplace platform we are not legally required to perform checks on the 150 million products offered for sale on the platform, we invest in a wide range of programs designed to attract and reward sellers who offer quality items, and limit the exposure of those who offer inferior items.

For example:

  • Wish has a number of proactive and reactive mechanisms designed to prevent, detect, and remove ads that violate local laws or safety standards. They include a robust internal mechanism for the notice and takedown procedure, as well as a recidivism protocol for repeat traders.
  • Our recently launched Wish Standards program measures our merchants against a defined set of criteria covering product quality and refund rates, and rewards them with commission discounts and increased visibility within the app.
  • As a voluntary signatory to the EC’s Product Safety Commitment, we respond within two working days to government notices to remove listings that offer unsafe products for sale in the EU, which goes beyond- beyond legal requirements.
  • Wish is actively diversifying its merchant base by recruiting vendors in various geographies, including Europe, to expand product selection and further improve product quality.

Wish still complies with DGCCRF’s removal requests and is therefore intrigued by the over-approach to this issue. We have tried on several occasions to engage constructively with the DGCCRF. We are now actively pursuing legal remedies to challenge what we consider to be illegal and disproportionate action carried out by the DGCCRF.

Rosemary S. Bishop