Correcting an error in an advertisement

A consumer must be able to trust that the price and other information in an advertisement are correct. If the advertiser has acted carelessly, you can claim compensation for financial losses caused by an inaccurate advertisement. A particular obligation to act carefully is associated with special offers.

The seller has an obligation to act carefully

In connection with marketing and special offer campaigns, the vendor must make sure that the product is available and that the information in the advertisement is accurate. This obligation to be careful also includes correcting any marketing information that is incorrect or has changed.

The corrected information must reach customers

If the advertisement is inaccurate or some information is missing, the advertiser has a duty to correct the error as soon as possible after noticing it. The corrected information must be made available to those consumers at whom the inaccurate advertisement was targeted. The correction must be made using sufficiently effective means, and it must be in a correct proportion to the impact and scope of the marketing and the harm that the error causes to customers.

The vendor should normally publish the correction in the same media in which the inaccurate advertisement appeared:

  • For example, if an online store’s marketing communication containing inaccurate information was published not only on the store’s website but also on social media, the error must be corrected on both channels.
  • In brick-and-mortar stores, the company must also correct the error outside the store, and information about correcting the error must be clearly displayed inside it.

Compensation for an error in advertising

The binding nature of marketing, the advertiser’s carefulness and possible compensation paid to a consumer often depend on the details of the case. Such factors as the impact and volume of marketing, the attractiveness of the price and the offered product, and the way in which the marketing information was corrected are taken into consideration.

If the advertiser has acted negligently, you can claim compensation for financial losses caused by an incorrect advertisement. For example, these losses include the costs of a wasted trip to the shop. It is advisable for the company to offer the consumer a corresponding product on the same terms as the advertised product, or a possibility to buy the product later.

The advertiser must be particularly careful when marketing a special offer. Special offers are usually particularly advantageous offers valid for a short period, and the consumer is enticed to buy the specific product that is offered. Because of the exceptional nature of special offers, there is no need to separately investigate if the advertiser has been careful. If the vendor runs out of the product that is on special offer while the offer is valid, they must be prepared to compensate consumers for any losses caused by this error. For example, they can sell you a corresponding product for the special offer price, or give you the possibility to buy the special offer product later.

The advertiser is usually not liable to offer compensation if

  • they have corrected the error appropriately
  • they can show that the error was caused for a reason they could not control
  • the error is so obvious that the consumer should have understood it as a mistake.

Binding nature of an incorrect price

You have the right to expect that the information on price given in advertising is correct in the store, online store and addressed and other direct marketing.

If the price indicated on the shelf is lower than the price at the checkout, the consumer has the right to get the product for the lower price.

In online stores and advertising, the company can update information quickly, which is why the advertiser has a greater responsibility for information they provide online. The basic principle in online trade is that the information advertised by the vendor is binding. You can demand to get the product at the price offered on the website once you have accepted the offer by ordering the product.

However, the price is not binding on the vendor if the consumer should have understood that it was clearly incorrect. For example, this is the case when the difference between the advertised price and the real price is significant, or the incorrect price can be considered exceptionally low compared to the general price level.

If the vendor claims that the actual price was different from the price at which the consumer ordered the product, the vendor must be able to provide reliable proof of this.