The Consumer Ombudsman issued an injunction against seven sports shops due to misleading advertising

Sports shops create an impression of major discounts by quoting comparison prices, discount percentages or other expressions referring to discounts. However, based on monitoring by the Consumer Ombudsman, these expressions are not always true. The Consumer Ombudsman has now issued an injunction on seven sports shops that have not corrected their misleading advertising despite promises to do so.

The Consumer Ombudsman has monitored the websites of several companies in the sports equipment sector since August 2016 in order to discover how percentages, comparison prices or other expressions referring to discounts are used in the marketing of the companies in the field. Based on the monitoring, the Consumer Ombudsman has issued injunctions against Intersport Finland Oy (Intersport and Budget Sport), L-Fashion Group Oy (TopSport), Partioaitta Oy, Scandinavian Outdoor Oy, SGN Sportia Oy, Sportia-Lahti Oy and Stadium Oy. A conditional fine of EUR 100,000 has been issued in order to enforce the injunction.

The injunctions are related to the meeting held in March 2016 between the Consumer Ombudsman and key sports equipment companies operating in Finland. In the meeting, the rules concerning sale and discount marketing were reviewed with the companies, and it was agreed that the companies would refrain from price marketing that was misleading to the consumers. However, the companies that received the injunction have not changed their illegal practices despite their promises.

Fabricated comparison prices and imaginary discount percentages

The aim of using comparison prices and discount percentages is to create the impression in the minds of consumers that the discounts are considerable. However, based on the Consumer Ombudsman’s monitoring, the products may never have been offered at the stated comparison prices at all, and the discount percentages have not actually been offered. In addition to this, product prices may have occasionally been raised for a very short period, followed by advertisements of a discount for a considerably long time. Similar marketing methods are also found in the furniture business.

A healthy price competition and discounts on products benefit consumers. However, misleading marketing hampers the consumers’ understanding of the shop’s normal price levels and of the actual size of the advertised discount.

If the companies resist the injunctions issued to them, or if they are found to repeat their illegal marketing, the Consumer Ombudsman can take the matter to the Market Court.

More information
Consumer Ombudsman tells sports shops to give up recommended retail prices and recommended prices, press release of the FCCA, 2 March 2016