The Consumer Ombudsman intervened in misleading marketing and distance selling of the Ruokaboksi service: A one-off trial was a permanent subscription

The Consumer Ombudsman has reminded Ruokaboksi Finland Oy of the basic rules of marketing and distance selling. In marketing its Ruokaboksi service, the company has given the impression that the service could be ordered as a trial or test, but in reality it has been a contract which is valid until further notice. Furthermore, the customers have not been informed of their right to cancel the service. Ruokaboksi Finland has announced that it will address the shortcomings.

Ruokaboksi Finland markets the Ruokaboksi service on its website, social media channels and by phone. Its marketing terms included “trial box” and “test customer relationship”, on the basis of which the consumer could have an impression of a trial or a one-off order. In reality, however, this was a standing order. According to the Consumer Protection Act, the period of the subscription is essential information that must be clearly communicated to customers.

“New services that make everyday life easier for consumers are very welcome. In their sales, however, it must be remembered that misleading marketing is prohibited, and consumers must be clearly informed of their rights, such as the possibility of cancelling the agreement,” says Consumer Ombudsman Katri Väänänen.

Ruokaboksi Finland committed to changing the marketing of the Ruokaboksi service in accordance with the requirements of the Consumer Ombudsman. In the future, the company will no longer use the terms “trial box”, “test customer”, “no commitment” and “no binding deadlines” in its marketing if it is marketing a permanent subscription.

The Consumer Ombudsman also required a change to the lottery form on the website, in which participation in the draw and making an agreement on the Ruokaboksi service could be confused with each other. In the future, there must be a clear distinction between lotteries and making an agreement.

The Ruokaboksi service has a 14-day cancellation right

The Consumer Ombudsman also assesses the right to cancel the Ruokaboksi service. In distance selling, which is also the case with ordering the Ruokaboksi service, the consumer can usually cancel the agreement within 14 days of its conclusion. However, the cancellation right does not apply, for example, to products such as foodstuffs, which may deteriorate or expire quickly.

The Consumer Ombudsman considered that services such as the design of recipes, the procurement of raw ingredients and deliveries to customers play the main role in the Ruokaboksi service. The Act does not contain any grounds for limiting the right of cancellation that would suit this type of service, so customers have 14 days to cancel the agreement. The customer must also be clearly informed of the right of cancellation.

The Consumer Ombudsman also found shortcomings in the provision of advance information on distance selling. Ruokaboksi Finland is committed to providing in the future all advance information in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act, such as information on the duration of the contract and the right to cancel it, in a clear and understandable manner.

Summary of the Consumer Ombudsman’s decision (in Finnish)