European Commission


Case detail

Directive article Annex I al2 31.
National ID Ombudsman of the Consumer 12nd of November 2009 (No of protocol 3664)
Country Greece Decision date 12/11/2009
Common name Decision type Other
Court Συνήγορος του καταναλωτή Plaintiff(s) Ombudsman of the Consumer
Court translation Ombudsman of the Consumer Defendant(s) Company (not named)
Subject prizes
Keywords black listgames of chanceprice informationprizesprofessional diligence

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Creating the impression towards consumers that they are likely to win a prize competition based solely on chance, while in reality all consumers can "win" the prize competition by paying a considerable amount of money in an indirect way (although this was not clearly communicated to the consumers), constitutes an unfair commercial practice. 


The Ombudsman of the Consumer tracked down a leaflet which was included in a daily newspaper of wide publication. The leaflet urged consumers to participate in a competition that was supposed to offer money to anyone that could find the same three symbols after scratching a specific area of the leaflet. 

In order to win, however, the consumer was also obliged to call a telephone number and answer an easy and obvious question. The charges for this call were considerable, which was not communicated in advance to the consumer.
After a quick research, the Ombudsman established that all the leaflets led to the same result, i.e. every consumer scratched and found the same three symbols. The Ombudsman came to the conclusion that the company was clearly aiming to profit from the phone calls made by the consumers who were misled.

Legal issue

Is it unfair to organise a prize competition that gives a consumer the impression that he is in a special position by having scratched three identical symbols (while in fact every scratch card would show these three identical symbols), and then requires the consumer to call an expensive telephone number to claim the prize?


The Ombudsman held that the presentation of the competition and the methods to attract consumers constitute a clear unfair commercial practice, since:

(1) the competition was based on an excessive and misleading attraction of consumers, that caused an essential distortion of the consumers' transactional behaviour, and led to an important distortion of their ability to take an informed choice;
(2) the competition created the impression that the consumers were likely to win only by chance, whereas in reality, in order to receive the advertised financial prize, consumers had to pay a considerable amount of money in an indirect way by paying for an additional telephone call, for which the charges were not communicated in advance; and
(3) by using the above mentioned methods, the organizing company omitted to comply with the requirements of professional diligence. 

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The Ombudsman of the Consumer :

(1) issued a recommendation asking consumers to critically assess a competition before they decide to enter in such competitions, and at the same time to be fully aware of the financial obligations that they would have to assume should they decide to participate;
(2) requested the trader to withdraw the specific competition for the reasons specified in the recommendation and, in the future, to address consumers with the decency and professional diligence that are dictated by the principle of good faith and Greek consumer protection legislation.
(3) recommended to the daily newspapers editors to protect the financial interests of their readers by refusing advertisement space for similar competitions that intend to gain profit for their organizers in an unfair way.

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