The Consumer Ombudsman proposes a cash penalty of EUR 1 million to Masku Kalustetalo for misleading discount marketing

Based on a report by the Consumer Ombudsman, Masku Kalustetalo misleads consumers in its marketing. In furniture marketing, the company gives the impression of large discounts for consumers by indicating in connection with the sales price either comparison prices, discount percentages or other terms referring to discounts that do not give a realistic idea of the actual price level at Masku Kalustetalo.

According to the Consumer Ombudsman’s reports, the discount prices indicated by Masku in its marketing have been calculated from prices that the company has not actually charged. The furniture has been sold at discount or special offer prices between 80% and 90% of its total sales time.

Offering large discounts to consumers is not prohibited. However, discounts may not give a misleading impression of a large discount of over EUR 1,000, if the product is practically not offered at a higher so-called normal price.

Effective price competition and discounts offered to the consumer benefit the consumer, but presenting incorrect information and using misleading expressions is unequivocally prohibited. The promotion of furniture cannot be based on the abuse of consumer confidence.

The references to a comparison price above the actual sales price made by Masku in its marketing have given the average consumer misleading information about the actual affordability of the prices of the furniture marketed by the company. This has led to consumers making a purchase decision that they would not have made without expressions indicating a reduced price or affordability.

Prohibitions and periodic penalty payments did not stop misleading marketing – a penalty is suggested for the first time

At the request of the Consumer Ombudsman, Masku’s marketing has been dealt with three times by the Market Court as a market law case. By its decisions MAO:655/09MAO:68/11 and MAO:385/16, the Market Court has prohibited Masku from engaging in discount and offer marketing in violation of the Consumer Protection Act and has twice sentenced Masku to pay periodic penalty payments to enforce the prohibition.

The prohibitions imposed by the Market Court and the periodic penalty payments imposed to enforce the prohibitions have not had the desired effect on Masku’s marketing. In addition, the threat of imposing periodic penalty payments that strengthen the prohibitions has not prevented the company from engaging in marketing in violation of the Consumer Protection Act.

Since July 2020, the Consumer Ombudsman has had the opportunity to propose to the Market Court that it impose a penalty payment on a trader that deliberately or negligently acts to the detriment of consumers and violates or neglects the essential rights of consumers. The Consumer Ombudsman is now exercising this right for the first time.

Director Miina Ojajärvi considers it justified to impose a penalty payment in order to strengthen control: “The prohibition imposed with a periodic penalty payment has not been effective, as the periodic penalty payments imposed on Masku have not been sufficiently dissuasive. It is important that a sufficiently high penalty payment may be imposed for a deliberate violation of the Consumer Protection Act.”

Read more:

Press release 27.6.2016: The Market Court imposed a penalty payment of EUR 100,000 on Masku due to its continuous discount sale marketing

Press release 3.7.2015: The Consumer Ombudsman demands that Masku pay the EUR 100,000 conditional fine imposed upon it