Aggressive practices or methods may not be used in marketing or customer relationships. Aggressive practices include harassment, coercion and pressurising a consumer in any way, which may result in the consumer making a purchase decision or other decision related to a consumer product or service, which he or she would not have made unless pressurised to do so.
Examples of harassment include
- Direct marketing aimed at a person who has prohibited the data controller or registrar from using his or her personal information for marketing or research purposes.
- Delivery of unaddressed direct marketing materials to consumers who have a “No advertising mail” sign on their postbox or letterbox, or have otherwise indicated that they do not wish to receive marketing material, and telemarketing or door-to-door selling of holidays, late in the evening, or early in the morning.
Coercion may consist not only of physical violence but also of a threat against the life, health, freedom, honour, property or other similar interests of another person.
The use of a position of authority in relation to the consumer for the purposes of pressurising him or her, by fundamentally restricting the consumer's possibilities of making a well-grounded purchasing decision or any other decision related to a consumer product or service, constitutes pressurising.
Typical cases of pressurising include
- Taking advantage of the consumer's fatigue, illness or weakness due to age and exhaustion in order to have the consumer conclude a contract.
- Offering products or services to the elderly that they are unable to use and which are unnecessary for them.
After the conclusion of a contract, pressurising may involve the following
- Making contact with the business in order to file a customer complaint is difficult, or even impossible.
- Threatening the consumer, without grounds for doing so, with legal action when he or she makes notification of a defect in the product or service.
How are aggressive practices assessed?
The specific criteria used by consumer authorities for assessing the degree of aggressiveness of a trader's practices include
- the timing,
- the location,
- the nature and persistence,
- the use of threatening or abusive language or behaviour,
- the exploitation of any specific misfortune or circumstance that impair the consumer’s judgement
- complicating the exercising of consumer rights related to the contract or based on legislation, and the threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken.
The trader's practices are assessed as a whole, taking account of all the circumstances related to each individual case.
Certain practices in marketing and customer relationships are deemed inappropriate and are prohibited in all cases and under all circumstances, without case-by-case consideration. These include the following:
- creating the impression that the consumer cannot leave the premises until a contract is formed,
- failing to comply with a consumer's request to leave his or her home, or prohibition on returning to his or her home,
- making persistent and unwanted solicitations by telephone, fax, e-mail or othe remote media,
- including in an advertisement a direct exhortation to children to buy the advertised product or persuade their parents or other adults to buy the advertised products for them,
- explicitly informing a consumer that if he does not buy the product or service, the trader’s job or livelihood will be in jeopardy,
- creating the false impression that the consumer has already won, will win, or will on doing a particular act win, a prize or other equivalent benefit, when in fact either there is no prize or other equivalent benefit, or taking any action in relation to claiming the prize or other equivalent benefit is subject to the consumer paying money or incurring a cost.
In addition to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, the provisions of the Contracts Act (228/1929) regarding the invalidity of contracts,and the provisions of the Criminal Code i.a. on violation of domestic privacy, may be applicable to aggressive marketing practices.