Full-bodied commercial announcements don’t always deliver what they promise. There are three industries in particular that often cause annoyance among consumers.
Ein credit institute advertises with a free current account, a furniture store attracts with a discount of “30 percent on almost everything”. However, advertising does not always deliver what it promises. Sometimes the consumer only learns the whole truth after studying the fine print or at the checkout. “We are regularly concerned with the issue of advertising promises not being kept,” said lawyer Peter Breun-Goerke from the competition headquarters. “However, customers have no legal claim that the advertising promise is actually fulfilled.”
According to Breun-Goerke, consumers are particularly likely to complain about campaigns by furniture stores, electronics stores and the financial sector. Consumers should not accept misleading statements uncritically. “We can achieve changes for the future through customer complaints.”
The latest example is a drugstore chain. It advertises redeeming discount vouchers from competitors and even went as far as the Federal Court of Justice for this right. According to the information, customers in two branches could not redeem the coupons due to an in-house test. After the competition center objected to the advertising, the drugstore chain undertook to clearly point out that the discount vouchers cannot be redeemed in certain branches.
No compensation for violations
According to consumer advocates, misleading advertising with alleged test results has increased. “For example, it is suggested to the consumer that a test has been carried out, although only various data and statements have been collated,” reported Helke Heidemann-Peuser from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv). “It is not possible for the individual consumer to claim compensation for violations of unfair competition. There is simply no legal basis for this “
The hope of the consumer advocates on this point now rests on the EU Commission, which recently submitted proposals to amend various consumer law provisions. The Commission wants to expand the previous injunction to an instrument for compensation.