The Consumer Ombudsman and ten sports equipment stores operating in Finland have agreed that the stores will no longer compare their discount prices to recommended retail prices and recommended prices in their marketing. This ensures that discounts will not be marketed in a misleading way. The Consumer Ombudsman also reminded companies of provisions on discount and sales marketing.
The meeting of the Consumer Ombudsman and the sports equipment sector was preceded by a Market Court decision on 24 November 2015, concerning the sports shop XXL Sports & Outdoor Oy. In accordance with the Consumer Ombudsman’s requirements, the Market Court has prohibited XXL from comparing its sales price to the recommended retail price if this price does not correspond with the price that other retailers would normally apply to the product. In addition, the Market Court has prohibited XXL from presenting in its marketing the false claim that the offer product is available at a certain price only for a short limited period, even though the company sells the same product at the same price after the offer period.
Recommended retail prices (RRP) and recommended prices (RP) may only be indicated if other retailers have usually sold the same product for that particular price. The companies must also be able to prove this, although presenting sufficient evidence of it is often practically impossible. In addition to XXL, other sports equipment stores also had deficiencies in their use of comparison prices. Misleading comparison prices cause financial losses to consumers whose attention is not drawn to the final sales price but to the size of the fabricated price reduction.
The Consumer Ombudsman has not deemed it reasonable to refer other sports shops, apart from XXL, to the Market Court. Instead, in her meeting with the shops, she stated that she expects all businesses in the sector adhere to the decision issued by the Market Court to XXL. They also agreed that sports shops will no longer use recommended retail prices and recommended prices as comparison prices in their marketing. The companies also received a recapitulation of other some rules concerning discount and offer marketing, such as the duration and methods of sales campaigns.
The Consumer Ombudsman also blogged about the matter on 2 March 2016.