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Case detail

B a c k

Directive article Article 5 2.
Article 5 4.
Article 6 1.
National ID Decision no. RBG-20/2010
Country Poland Decision date 20/12/2010
Common name Decision type Administrative decision, first degree
Court Prezes Urzędu Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumentów, Delegatura w Bydgoszczy Plaintiff(s) Prezes Urzędu Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumentów
Court translation The President of Ofiice for Competition and Consumer Protecion, Delegature in Bydgoszcz Defendant(s) Natan Zieliński conducting business activity under name “PRONATAN” with its registered office in Kraków
Subject price information
Keywords false impressionmisleading commercial practicesmisleading priceprice information

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Headnote

Advertising an online service with a specific price while in fact this price only applies when a particular payment system is used, and the consumer is only informed about this condition by a statement at the bottom of the webpage in small font size, constitutes an unfair commercial practice.

Facts

The defendant operated a website through which consumers could check the probable date of their death. The defendant stated on its website: “Check out the date of your death for PLN 1.00 (PLN 1.22 including VAT)” together with a number to which a text message should be sent. 

At the bottom of the webpage, the website further clarified in small font size, that the abovementioned price only applied to payments made by the Pay Pal payment system. If consumers paid by sending a text message, the price for the offered service was significantly higher. 

Legal issue

Does advertising a service for a specific price, while in fact this price only applies on the condition of making use of a particular payment system and the consumer is informed of this condition only by a notion at the bottom of the webpage in small font size, constitute an unfair commercial practice?

Decision

The President stated that it is the trader’s obligation to provide price information of offered services and that the consumer has the right to know the price.

Reading the information as presented on the website of the defendant, the consumer cannot expect that obtaining access to the offered services could be subject to a price different from the price advertised on the website ("PLN 1.00 — PLN 1.22 including VAT"), nor that there are two types of prices, depending on the payment method. 
 
Moreover, the consumer could not expect that the low fee relates only to payments effected by using the Pay Pal payment system. The way in which information was presented on the website caused a false impression to the average consumer, which influenced the transactional decision made by the consumer (which would not have been made, if he had not been misled). Next, the President indicated that the consumer was not informed about the necessary monitor resolution in which the website should be accessed to make sure that all necessary information is seen on the screen without the need to scroll down. 
 
Therefore, taking into consideration the fact that the information about the price was presented in an unclear and ambiguous manner, the President came to the conclusion that the defendant breached the prohibition on unfair commercial practices. 

  URL Decision Decision full text
EN N/A
PL http://decyzje.uokik.gov.pl/dec_prez.nsf/0/9D13AE55689F8151C125780E0035BF42/$file/RBG-61-03_10_AS-%20%20decyzja%20-%20_Natan%20Zieli_361ski_.pdf

Result

The President ruled that the defendant had breached the prohibition on unfair commercial practices and violated article 5 section 1 and 2 point 2 in connection with article 4 section 1 and 2 of the Unfair Commercial Practices Act and article 24 section 1 and 2 point 3 of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act. 

The President ordered the defendant to publish the decision in a national newspaper.
 
The President equally imposed a financial penalty on the defendant, paid to the state budget and amounting to PLN 11,207.

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