3.4.7. Package Offers

After what has been said about conditional-purchase promotions, it is reasonable to conclude that Annex I n. 20 prohibits the use of "free" to describe "an individual element of a package if the cost of that element is included in the package price.

A package is a pre-arranged combination of features offered for a long-term single, inclusive price where customers cannot exercise genuine choice on how many elements of the package they receive for that price.

For example: if a car is advertised with leather seats, air conditioning and a CD player for a standard price of EUR 10,000, that combination of features is a package. The consumer pays one all-inclusive price for the car as advertised. If any of the advertised features were to be removed, the quality and composition of the car the customer is paying EUR 10,000 for would be diminished. If he wants to claim that the CD player is free and that the EUR 10,000 relates to the other elements, the trader would need to demonstrate either (a) that the requirements of a conditional-purchase promotion are satisfied, or (b) that the CD player was a new additional feature and that the price of the car had not increased (see below).

To take another example, a mobile-phone subscription offers a certain amount of airtime, a certain number of text messages and a voicemail facility for one all-inclusive price. Each element is intrinsic to the quality and composition of the package being advertised for the package price. Because customers cannot exercise genuine choice over how many elements they receive for the price paid, the elements are all included in the package price and may not be described as "free".

Within a package, the goods or services that are bundled together and sold for one single inclusive price could be different in nature: for example, if a single monthly subscription price is charged for a package that includes a range of television channels, access to the Internet and "free" calls to other subscribers, those services are intrinsic elements of the service that the customer is buying and, in practice, the customer has to take all three elements to pay the advertised price. Because customers cannot exercise genuine choice over how many elements they receive for the price paid, the elements are all included in the package price and may not be described as "free".

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