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Case detail

B a c k

Directive article Article 6 1.
National ID PS4755
Country Italy Decision date 25/07/2012
Common name "BNL E CARDIF-POLIZZA COLLEGATA AL MUTUO" Decision type Administrative decision, first degree
Court Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (Rome) Plaintiff(s) Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (Rome)
Court translation Italian Competition Authority Defendant(s) Banca Nazionale del Lavoro S.p.a. and Cardif Assicurazioni S.p.A. and Cardif Assurances Risques Divers S.A.
Subject coercion
Keywords financial servicesmaterial informationmisleading commercial practices

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Headnote

(1) Providing misleading information on the necessity to purchase an additional product or additional services in order to obtain the main product or service, constitutes an unfair commercial practice.

(2) Providing misleading and unclear information on the amount of the refund that consumers will receive when cancelling a services contract, constitutes an unfair commercial practice.
 

Facts

Based on a number of consumers' complaints, on 14 September 2011, the Italian Competition Authority (the plaintiff) opened an investigation against the defendants, which are financial institutions.

The plaintiff alleged two different infringements of the prohibition on unfair commercial practices.

The first defendant was suspected to demand from consumers that applied for a bank loan, to also purchase a life insurance from the second defendants, whereas the first defendant has advertised that concluding a life insurance was non-compulsory.

The defendants were also suspected to provide misleading and unclear information about the amount of the refund that the consumers would have received in case of cancellation of the insurance policy.

The defendants offered commitments to address the concerns expressed by the plaintiff. However, the latter rejected the commitments because they did not make good the damages suffered by the consumers and the conducts of the defendants were  considered very serious infringements of the prohibition on unfair commercial practices.

The plaintiff carried out a market survey which confirmed that the purchase of the life insurance of second defendants was an essential condition imposed by the first defendant to obtain a bank loan.

The second defendants argued that they informed the consumers about the formula to calculate the amount of the refund in case of cancellation of the insurance policy.
 

Legal issue

(1) Does providing misleading information on the necessity to purchase an additional product or additional services in order to obtain the main product or service, constitute an unfair commercial practice?

(2) Does providing misleading and unclear information on the amount of the refund that consumers will receive when cancelling a services contract, constitute an unfair commercial practice?
 

Decision

The decision of the plaintiff was twofold.

Firstly, it held that first defendant had breached the prohibition on unfair commercial practices because while advertising that the purchase of a life insurance was non-mandatory, it nonetheless imposed on the consumers the obligation to purchase a life insurance as an essential condition to obtain a bank loan. The first defendant did thus not comply with the requirements of professional diligence because it did not implement policies that prevented its employees from selling the life insurances in an aggressive way.

Secondly, the plaintiff stated that the defendants had breached the prohibition on unfair commercial practices because they provided misleading and unclear information on the amount of the refund that the consumers would receive in case of cancellation of the insurance policy.
 

  URL Decision Decision full text
EN N/A
IT http://www.agcm.it/consumatore/consumatore-delibere/open/C12560D000291394/5A59440BA8B13CD4C1257A5A002F3574.html

Result

The Italian Competition Authority, on the basis of the gravity and duration of the unfair practices, imposed on defendant a fine of 200,000.00 € for the first infringement.

As to the second infringement the paintiff fined:
a. first defendant - € 130,000.00.
b. defendant Cardif Assicurazioni S.p.A. - € 80,000.00
c. defendant Cardif Assurances Risques Divers S.A - € 100,000.00

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