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Amazon won't have to offer a phone helpline in the European Union

The court ruled that Amazon can stick to online support.
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AP Photo/Jens Meyer

Don't go looking for a customer support phone number for Amazon in Europe -- you probably won't find one. The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that Amazon isn't obligated to provide a phone helpline to customers in the region, rejecting Germain claims that the company's site violated national consumer protection laws by failing to clearly display a support phone number. An online shopping platform like Amazon is "not obliged in all cases" to make a phone number available, according to the judges.

The court did require effective substitutes, though, saying that Amazon must let customers get in touch "quickly" and "efficiently." It currently offers automated callbacks and online chat.

Amazon, unsurprisingly, was happy. It was "always confident" its callback service did the trick, and that the EU ruling showed it its support methods matched the "spirit and purpose" of the Union's consumer rights mandate.

The decision isn't very reassuring if you prefer to talk to a human being the moment you need help. At the same time, it might be good news for smaller online businesses. They wouldn't need to devote resources to maintaining phone support lines that might rarely see use. The catch, of course, is that they'd need to provide timely online help -- and it's not certain that every company is up to that task.

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