Commercial practices mean any act, omission, course of conduct or representation, commercial communication, including advertising, and marketing by a trader, directly related to the advertising, offering, sale or supply of goods or services to consumers.
Commercial practices are unfair if they mislead you or are aggressive with respect to you as a consumer. The use of unfair commercial practices is prohibited in the European Union.
A commercial practice is misleading if a trader or service provider gives you false information about goods or services or presents correct information in a way which is likely to deceive you because the information is unclear, unintelligible or ambiguous; does not give you important information which you need to know when making a transactional decision (e. g. information regarding the main characteristics and prices of goods or services, or the need for a service and spare parts).
A commercial practice is deemed to be aggressive if a trader or service provider limits your freedom of choice by harassing, coercing or unduly influencing you to buy his or her goods or services. For example, a trader or service provider creates an impression that you cannot leave until a contract is formed, makes you unwanted solicitations by phone or e-mail, demands payment for the goods supplied but not solicited by you, etc.
If on concluding a contract with you a trader or service provider uses an unfair commercial practice, you cannot later demand the cancellation of the transaction. If you have suffered damage because of an unfair commercial practise, you can demand through a court the reimbursement from a trader or service provider.
Examples of misleading commercial practices
When advertising goods or services, a trader states that they will only be available for a very limited time, although, in reality, the goods or services are available at the same price for several weeks.
A trader or service provider claims to offer you a prize/present (e.g. a shop advertises that every buyer of garden furniture will get a free sunshade), but when you go to collect your prize/present it turns out that they are out of stock.
A trader or service provider presents the rights granted to you by legislation as a distinctive feature of his or her offer (e.g. an online shop promotes video cameras by claiming that the 14-day right of withdrawal is valid only in their shop).
A trader or service provider falsely claims that the goods or services are able to cure illnesses, dysfunctions or malformations (e.g. a mouthwash advertisement which states that the product cures ulcers).
A trader or service provider includes in marketing material an invoice which gives you a false impression that you have already ordered the marketed goods or services (e.g. a set of postcards with an invoice sent via a direct mail which gives you an impression that you have to pay for marketed products).
Examples of aggressive commercial practices
A representative of a trader or service provider visits you in your home ignoring your request to leave or not to return.
A trader or service provider creates an impression that you have already won, will win, or will on doing a particular act win a prize or other equivalent benefit. In fact, there is no prize or other equivalent benefit, or receiving the prize is subject to you paying money.
A trader or service provider informs you that if you do not buy the goods or services, the trader's job or livelihood will be in jeopardy.
- The use of unfair commercial practices is prohibited before, during and after making a commercial transaction.
- The list of always prohibited commercial practices is provided in the Consumer Protection Act.
- Make sure to inform the Consumer Protection Board of any unfair commercial practice because the Board has the authority to punish a trader or service provider.