European Commission

 

Case detail

B a c k

Directive article Article 5 2. (b)
Article 6 1. (b)
Article 7 1.
Article 7 4. (c)
National ID Ombudsman of the Consumer 10th of March 2011 (Νo of protocol 2532)
Country Greece Decision date 10/03/2011
Common name Decision type Other
Court Συνήγορος του καταναλωτή Plaintiff(s) Consumer
Court translation Ombudsman of the Consumer Defendant(s) Mobile telephony company
Subject misleading advertising
Keywords advertisementfalse impressionmisleading commercial practicesmisleading omissionstelephone

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Headnote

The reference on a trader's website to a geographical map indicating the network coverage provided by that trader, however without specifying that this map relates to population coverage rather than to geographical coverage, constitutes a misleading commercial practice. 

Facts

A consumer sent a complaint claiming that although he was visiting an isolated Greek island, he received extraordinary charges from the defendant, a mobile phone company, because his calls were charged as international calls.

In particular, he was informed by the company’s customer service, that although he was in Greece, he had been connected to the Turkish network because the company’s signal could not reach some parts of this specific island. He was therefore charged for roaming although he was still in Greek territory.

The Ombudsman of the Consumer sent the claim to the defendant asking for its opinion. The Ombudsman also asked for further information regarding the defendant’s communication policy and the reason why the consumer had no knowledge of the roaming charges as well as information regarding the way and the means by which the company informed the consumer of the geographical coverage of its signal and how the company safeguards accurate information of the consumers.
 
The defendant refused to provide this information. 
 
For this reason, the Ombudsman of the Consumer conducted its own further research based on the defendant’s promotional material in order to check whether the consumers had been pre-contractually informed regarding the actual geographical coverage of the defendant’s signal or whether the advertisements were misleading. 
 
The Ombudsman also visited the defendant’s website where he found announcements regarding its network and a geographical map of Greece clearly creating the impression to the consumer that the network of the defendant geographically covered all parts of the country. The defendant claimed that it refered to the population coverage in its announcements regarding the existing network coverage, and not to the geographical coverage.

Legal issue

Does the reference on a trader's website to a geographical map indicating the network coverage provided by that trader, however without specifying that this map relates to population coverage rather than to geographical coverage, constitute a misleading commercial practice?

Decision

It was held by the Ombudsman that by placing a geographical map on the website without mentioning that this refers to the population coverage and not the geographical coverage, the defendant’s aim was to mislead the consumers.

The defendant’s online advertisement created the impression to the average consumer that he would normally receive mobile services through the defendant’s local network even in the most isolated locations of Greece. The consumers could not expect having to be provided with international roaming services.

The message was also considered misleading by the Ombudsman because, apart from the fact that it exclusively uses geographical terms, there was no explicit reference to the population coverage. Even if this had been the case, the consumers could also be confused about the difference between the terms "population" and "geographical coverage".

  URL Decision Decision full text
EL http://www.synigoroskatanaloti.gr/docs/reports/2011-03-10.%CE%A3%CF%85%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B1%CF%83%CE%B7-%CE%9A%CE%B9%CE%BD%CE%B7%CF%84%CE%B7%20%CE%A4%CE%B7%CE%BB%CE%B5%CF%86%CF%89%CE%BD%CE%B9%CE%B1.pdf
EN N/A

Result

The Ombudsman of the Consumer recommended to the defendant to withdraw the advertising campaign from all media.

It also recommended the defendant to clearly inform the consumers on the exact process and the charges when using roaming services.

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