The Consumer Ombudsman took DNA to Market Court for small print – marketing bans for Elisa, Santander and Delta Motor

The Consumer Ombudsman has intervened in the cases involving four advertisements which do not provide the essential information in a clear enough manner from the consumer’s viewpoint.

In television advertisements, a regularly used marketing method is where the essential details for a product or service or limitations related to the offer are described with a very small font at the bottom margin of the screen. As a result of the usage of this so-called small print, the consumer cannot properly compare the prices and contents of different services and products, which also distorts competition.

Small print has been banned in the decisions of both the Market Court and the Supreme Court. In spite of that, companies have continued using it.

Television advertisements under magnifying glass

In summer 2013, the Consumer Ombudsman closely monitored television advertisements and paid attention to the way information was given. Up came four advertisements in which information wasn’t presented sufficiently clearly as stipulated by law.

In the advertisements of DNA Oy, Delta Motor Group Oy and Santander Consumer Finance Oy, important details related to service and credit were presented for a few seconds in small print. The details couldn’t be read from a normal TV watching distance. Elisa Oyj’s ad, on the other hand, told about the monthly fee for Saunalahti Mobile Broadband 3G service but did not reveal how much the whole 24-month subscription period would cost.

The Consumer Ombudsman prohibited Elisa from offering consumers a fixed period subscription without at the same time clearly advising them, in the advertisement, about the total price for the subscription period that applies to the phone and internet connection. Delta Motor and Santander, for their part, were prohibited, in their marketing of consumer credit, from presenting details about the conditions pertaining to that credit unless they, at the same time, told about the real annual interest rate for the credit, among other things, and about other details, in a clear and easily perceivable manner as stipulated by law. The companies did not object to the prohibitions; therefore, they came into effect immediately.

DNA objected a prohibition, which dealt with the details to be given about the pay channel package, imposed to them. Because the ban lapses once the company objects its imposition, the ombudsman has taken the matter to the Market Court to be decided there.

The Consumer Ombudsman demands that the Market Court prohibit DNA from offering communications service, via distance sales of communications services, unless it tells, in a clear and understandable way, about the price and the payment conditions for the service, about the terms and conditions of delivery and compliance with the agreement, about the minimum period of the duration of the agreement and about the validity period for the offer.