The Consumer Ombudsman has intervened in the way that credit intermediary Sortter marketed its comparison service with a guarantee of the best interest rate, which was considered to refer to the promise of the lowest interest rate in the market. Sortter only requests credit offers from a certain number of creditors and cannot guarantee that credit offers are not available at a lower cost elsewhere.
Sortter’s advertisements have been displayed on TV and online in 2021 and 2022. In addition to the best interest rate warranty, Sortter has in other ways also indicated that it offers the cheapest option on the market, such as “choose the cheapest boat loan easily from the comparison”.
In Sortter’s view, the best interest rate does not imply that they can provide credit at the cheapest interest rate on the market; it is rather commercial praise that does not require evidence. However, the interest rate is credit price information that can be measured and compared to other interest rates. For the consumer, the best interest rate is unequivocally the lowest interest rate. The best interest rate guarantee therefore gives the impression that Sortter would provide the loan at the most advantageous interest rate on the market. If the best interest rate is promised in marketing, this is a factual claim that must be proven.
“The interest information on the credit must be presented truthfully, and not driven by vague promises. This is very important for the consumer's decision-making”.
Since Sortter only requests credit offers from a limited number of credit companies, it cannot guarantee that credit offers made through the service would be cheaper than those received from other sources. In 2020, the Consumer Ombudsman intervened in a similar phenomenon in the marketing of the Rahalaitos.fi credit comparison service.
Sortter has announced that it will stop using the best interest rate guarantee in its marketing. At the request of the Consumer Ombudsman, Sortter also committed not to use in its marketing a price guarantee procedure, that contains the claim of the lowest price or in some other way claims to intermediate more favourable credits than others, unless this can be proven.
Procedures including price guarantee and claims on the lowest price have been prohibited before
Marketing based on the price guarantee and claims of the most advantageous price have been commented on before, for example in a decision by the Market Court on Gigantti (in Finnish). In marketing, it cannot be claimed that the option offered is the cheapest one available on the market, unless this can be proven, and in this context, the consumer must not be promised compensation for the price difference if they find the same product at a lower price elsewhere.
The Supreme Court has in its decision on XXL’s marketing (in Finnish) also required the trader to ensure in advance that the claim of the lowest price is true. If the company is unable to prove its claim, the information is misleading.