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Case detail

B a c k

Directive article Article 6 1. (b)
Article 7 1.
Article 7 4.
National ID PS3341
Country Italy Decision date 15/12/2010
Common name "POSTE ITALIANE-RIMBORSO RITARDO" Decision type Administrative decision, first degree
Court Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (Rome) Plaintiff(s)
Court translation Italian Competition Authority Defendant(s) Poste Italiane S.p.A.
Subject misleading advertising
Keywords terms & conditionsinformed decisionmaterial information

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Headnote

(1) When a trader repeatedly provides an advertised service at a later date than the date indicated in the advertisement, the advertised date of provision of the service constitutes a misleading commercial practice.

(2) Referring in a document stating the general terms and conditions applicable to a service, to another document stating additional terms and conditions which also apply to the service, constitutes a misleading commercial practice. Terms and conditions applicable to a service should be provided in one document.
 

Facts

This case relates to several advertising practices of the defendant, a postal operator, regarding its service named "Raccomandata1", a service offered for sending registered letters. Following several claims reported by consumers, the Italian Competition Authority decided to start investigation procedures on 30 April 2010.

Following the consumers' complaints, it was first established that the defendant advertised its service by stating that the registered letters would be delivered one day after the date of the dispatch, whereas in reality, average delivery date took one more day.

Next, the terms and conditions relating to "Raccomandata1"-service were offered on a website of the defendant. However, the terms relating to the applicable compensation conditions were displayed on another website of the defendant, to which the former website referred. Hence, the consumer was obliged to consult two websites in order to gain full knowledge of all applicable terms.

Legal issue

(1) Does advertising a service provision date constitute a misleading omission, when in reality the defendant repeatedly provides the service at a later date than the advertised date?

(2) Does the reference in a document stating the general terms and conditions applicable to a service, to another document stating additional terms and conditions applicable to the service, constitute a misleading commercial practice?
 

Decision

(1) According to the Authority, the advertised service provision date constitutes material information allowing the consumer to take an informed transactional decision. To substantiate its position, the Authority took into account the frequency of the delays in the service provision and emphasized that late provision of the service by the defendant was not an exception, the average provision date being one day later than the advertised date. As a result, the Authority concluded the misleading nature of the advertised date of provision of the service.

(2) Regarding the terms and conditions on compensation, the Italian Competition Authority stated that all the information necessary for the consumer to make an informed transactional decision must be provided in one document. By referring the consumer to another website to take cognizance of the applicable conditions of compensation, while the other conditions are set forth on the website from which is referred to the former website, the defendant has omitted to provide the consumer with the material information necessary to take an informed transactional decision.

  URL Decision Decision full text
EN N/A
IT http://www.agcm.it/ricerca-avanzata/open/C12560D000291394/633D7354995C2455C125780F003FEA7B.html

Result

Based on the gravity and duration of the commercial practice, the Italian Competition Authority decided to impose a financial sanction upon the defendant and imposed the obligation to cease the unfair behavior. The financial sanction amounted to 200.000 EURO.

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