European Commission

 

Case detail



Directive article Article 6 1. (b)
Annex I al1 20.
National ID Consumer Protection Board
Country Estonia Decision date 03/02/2012
Common name Decision type Administrative decision, first degree
Court Tarbijakaitseamet (Tallinn) Plaintiff(s) Estonian Consumer Protection Board
Court translation Estonian Consumer Protection Board (Tallinn) Defendant(s) Elisa Eesti AS
Subject free
Keywords comparative advertisinginformation obligationprecontractual informationproduct characteristics

+ Expand all

Headnote

(1) Making too generalized and broad claims regarding the characteristics or benefits of a product, when such characteristics or benefits are actually much more limited compared to what was implied with the advertising claims and conditional on the fulfillment of some additional monetary criteria, constitutes a misleading advertising.
(2) Advertising a product or service as “free of charge” when the actual use of such product or service requires the consumer to incur additional indirect expenses on another product must be regarded as a misleading commercial practice.
(3) Making unsubstantiated claims that elevate the product above similar products offered by competitors,  must be regarded as a breach of the rules on comparative advertisements.
 

Facts

The defendant published advertisements of a telephone card of a specific brand, through television, billboards and the defendant’s website. The advertisement included various claims regarding the telephone card and its characteristics.
Upon purchasing the telephone card, the consumer was promised to receive 60 euros. In reality, the promised 60 euros was merely bonus credit for setting off the cost of any phone calls not made to a calling card of the same brand; the bonus credit was to be received over the duration of 12 months, in the amount of 5 euros a month, only upon fulfillment of the condition that the consumer purchased a certain amount of calling time every month.
The consumers purchasing the telephone card were promised unlimited communication with their friends, free of charge. In reality, "friends" were defined by the defendant as users of a calling card of the same brand as the one in question, contrary to the more usual practice according to which the consumers could determine a certain amount of phone numbers, to which they could call free of charge, themselves.
The advertisements promised free unlimited communication in the form of phone calls, text messages, mobile internet. This, however, was tied to the prior requirement of purchasing calling time for EUR 10 and lasted for the duration of 30 days from purchasing the calling time. Even then, the free calling time was limited to 600 minutes for the 30 day period. To remove this limitation, even larger amount of calling time was required to be purchased.
In the advertisement it was stated that the calling card "offers the widest range of possibilities for communicating with one's friends free of charge". According to the Consumer Protection Board, the claim was not substantiated in any way and therefore creating such an impression regarding the telephone card as if it was above all the other telephone cards.
 

Legal issue

(1) Does making too generalized and broad claims regarding the characteristics or benefits of a product, when such characteristics or benefits are actually much more limited compared to what was implied with the advertising claims and conditional on the fulfillment of some additional monetary criteria, constitute a misleading advertising?
(2) Does advertising a product or service as “free of charge” when the actual use of such product or service requires the consumer to incur additional indirect expenses on another product,  constitute a misleading commercial practice?
(3) Must making unsubstantiated claims that elevate a product above similar products offered by competitors,  be regarded as a breach of the rules on comparative advertisements?
 

Decision

The Estonian Consumer Protection Board regarded all the above mentioned either as misleading advertising or breach of the requirements to comparative advertising under the Advertisement Act or misleading commercial practice under the Consumer Protection Act.

  URL Decision Decision full text
EN N/A
ET http://www.tka.riik.ee/doc.php?15726

Result

The defendant was obligated to remove the advertisements in question.

Additional information

Date Description URL
There is no events for this case.

Related case(s)

National ID Common Name Subject Country Link type
There is no related cases for this case.

Legal Literature

Title Author
There is no Legal Literature for this case.