In our previous article on the subject, we have presented you some of the most important requirements that the legislation sets for online trading. In its continuation with the current article we would like to provide you with information considering several additional, but fundamental questions for every trader. Thereinafter we will focus on how product advertising should be organized so that, without violating statutory prohibitions, the trader can distinguish his own from those of his competitors and thus direct the consumer demand to them, as well as how should promotional/discount campaigns be organized.
Requirements for comparative advertising to be observed:
The legislation is based on the perception that the comparison between the qualities of different products is predominantly useful for the consumer and therefore comparative advertising is allowed in compliance with the requirements aimed at preventing malicious harm to the interests of competing companies. On the other hand, the comparison between the products of competitors always carries the risk of harming the interests of the competitor, since the purpose of advertising is precisely to highlight the advantages of the advertised product and thus direct consumer demand to it.
Therefore, and in order to avoid the restrictions of the prohibited comparative advertising, more often than not established methods are used in which the ads themselves set a basic appearance of similar products in order not to target those of a particular competitor, but despite that the effect of emphasizing the positive characteristics of the advertised product is achieved.
What should the advertising message of the trader who has decided to take advantage of the opportunities for comparative advertising look like?
- The comparison should be objective, between products and services that satisfy the same needs. Otherwise, there is no way to make a real and adequate comparison, and advertising will not be objective;
- Advertising messages that make false claims, use vague or misleading messages, withhold or exaggerate information, and that harm the competitors’ name or trademarks in bad faith should be avoided.
Requirements for organizing promotional/discount campaigns:
When organizing discounts, the trader should comply with the following requirements:
- It is recommended for larger campaigns to prepare clear rules for the discount, provided for customers;
- The discount announcement should contain information about the goods and services which are on a discount and the duration of the reduced price;
- The announcement should be made in one of the ways provided in the Consumer Protection Act, so that the comparison between old and new price is visible;
- The old price, which will be stated in the discount announcement, is considered to be the one applied by the trader at least one month before the discount (this condition was introduced to avoid price speculation and the so-called “fictitious reductions”). ;
- The reduction period should be between 1 working day and 1 month;
- The conduct of a discount campaign does not entitle the trader solely because of the proposed lower price to “take away” certain rights of consumers (eg the right of withdrawal, complaint, etc.).
It is important to keep in mind that non-compliance with the requirements for lawful conduct of discount campaigns could lead to the imposition of administrative sanctions on the trader, but more significant would be the “sanctions” imposed by consumers themselves, who as a result of established unfair practice, would redirect their demand to other similar products of competing companies.
On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that a large part of the e-commerce legislation aims not only to protect the interests of consumers, but also to protect the competitive environment. Therefore, when taking a number of actions in an online environment, the trader should continue to comply with the rules of competition law, which he adheres to in his usual course of business.
This article has outlined some of the most important aspects that every trader should keep in mind when conducting online trading. The variety of factual relationships leads to the emergence of many other cases that require a complex and timely solution from the trader. Therefore, we at Murgova and Partners Attorneys at Law are next to our clients every day, providing them with constant assistance in finding the most appropriate solutions. If you need additional information and assistance, you can visit our website: https://murgova.com/