The Consumer Ombudsman intervened in the case of food supplements telemarketing

The Consumer Ombudsman has called for changes to the telemarketing practises of Regimen Oü, which sells Vitaelife Pharma products. In 2018, the consumer authorities received more than 550 complaints about Regimen’s telesales, and consumer contacts about the company are still coming in. In vast majority of cases, the consumer had thought that they ordered only one sample pack but have found themselves bound to a longer contract. In December 2018, Regimen committed to change its procedures.

Most of the consumer problems are related to situations where an ongoing order has come as a surprise to the consumer. According to some of the complaints, Regimen sent food supplements to some consumers, even though they did not place an order for any products. It is unlawful to send chargeable goods without a confirmed order from the consumer.

Telesales situations require the consumer to make quick decisions based on information provided by the seller. Professional telesales representatives are required to outline the contents of the order clearly and, if necessary, correct any misconceptions, such as the duration of the contract. The seller must also end the sales call immediately if the consumer indicates that he or she is not interested in the offer.

“The case with Regimen is a typical example of telesales problems. The consumer can find themselves unexpectedly in a sales situation, the order terms are not clearly stated, and the consumer is expected to make quick decisions. Due to persistent problems, the legislation on telesales should be reassessed,” says Consumer Ombudsman Katri Väänänen.

The main marketing message and overall description of the sale should correspond to the actual contractual content of the order. For example, when marketing a long-term order, the sales representative should not talk about an introductory or a sample package, unless, at the same time, the consumer is clearly informed about the terms of the continuation, cancellation and termination of the order.

The Consumer Ombudsman has already dealt with Regimen’s unlawful marketing practises in 2017. At that time, the issue was mainly about their online marketing but the Consumer Ombudsman drew Regimen’s attention partly to the same questions.

Regimen committed to change its ways of operating

In December 2018, Regimen declared that it would change its telesales and contract practices, as required by the Consumer Ombudsman. Among other things, the company pledged that their telesales representatives will immediately declare the commercial purpose at the beginning of the call and that chargeable goods will not be delivered to consumers without an explicit order. The company also agreed that during the sales call they would clearly and comprehensibly explain about the duration and termination of the contract to the consumer, and send the consumer an order confirmation containing all the information required by law.

Consumer authorities continue to receive complaints about Regimen’s telemarketing, and the situation is actively being monitored. Consumers who require advice or mediation to settle their dispute can contact consumer advice. Inappropriate telemarketing can be reported to the Consumer Ombudsman.