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Unfair commercial practices are prohibited under European law since December 2007. Under the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive there is a clear ‘black list’ of banned unfair practices. See the brochure PDF for lots of everyday examples.

Misleading advertising
A trader who makes a claim about the effect of a product will have to be able to back it up — wherever in the EU the trader is based. For instance, it is illegal to claim in marketing that a product will cure an illness if there is no scientific proof to support the claim.

Aggressive practices
Mrs. Rouveure contracted a plumber to fix a faulty radiator. She was initially told that the job would cost €80. However, instead, the bill came to €450. When she refused to pay the additional amount, the plumber disconnected her hot water supply. In this case, the plumber used undue influence to exploit a position of power over the consumer, something which is illegal under European law.

Aggressive doorstep selling
A salesman turns up at your door and somehow persuades you to make a purchase by aggressive means, such as ignoring repeated requests by you to leave. Such behaviour is also an illegal aggressive practice and is prohibited.

Feeling ripped off? A new website can help
The European Commission's consumers directorate launched a new public website ( which can help you if you think that you have been misled or ripped off by a rogue trader or just want to find out which scams you need to watch out for. The site contains practical day-to-day examples of unfair practices, including a Black List of practices, which have been banned under the Unfair Commercial Practices (UCP) Directive. The Black List contains the practices which are clearly illegal and most damaging to consumers, e.g. bait advertising, fake “free” offers, or pyramid schemes. By visiting the site, you will be able to find practical advice about your case, test your knowledge about what is a legitimate practice and what is not, or view film clips depicting some common scams. The site is available in 22 official EU languages.

Further information: Unfair commercial practices -



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