The Black List: banned commercial practices
Certain commercial practices across Europe are ALWAYS prohibited under the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. In other words, the commercial practices are considered unfair in all circumstances. No case-by-case assessment against other provisions of the Directive is required.
To ensure that traders, marketing professionals and consumers are clear about what is prohibited, a Black List of 31 unfair practices has been drawn up.
Explicitly informing a consumer that if he does not buy the product or service, the trader's job or livelihood will be in jeopardy.
Advertising products which cannot be legally sold
Stating or creating the impression that a product can legally be sold when it cannot.
Falsely claiming to have Trust marks and codes
- A trader claiming to be a signatory to a code of conduct when they are not.
- A trader displaying a trust mark, quality mark or equivalent when they don't have the authorisation for those trust marks.
Traders who Bait with one product and Switch to promoting another product afterwards
Traders who use one product or offer to lure the consumer into considering a purchase but then switch to promoting a different product. Traders who in that context::
a) refuse to show the advertised item to consumers;
b) refuse to take orders for it or deliver it within a reasonable time; or
c) demonstrate a defective sample of it with the intention of promoting a different product.
Direct exhortations to children: "Go buy the book!"
Including in an advertisement a direct exhortation to children to buy advertised products or persuade their parents or other adults to buy advertised products for them.
After-sales services: "Europe-wide guarantees"
Creating the false impression that after-sales service in relation to a product is available in a Member State other than the one in which the product is sold.
Professional trader disguised as consumer
Falsely claiming or creating the impression that the trader is not acting for purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession, or falsely representing himself as a consumer.
Deceptive advertising: E.g. “End of lease! All stock must go!”
Claiming that the trader is about to cease trading or move premises when he is not.
Advertorials: “Mixed / biased messages”
Use of 'testimony style' advertising in the media to promote a product but where a trader has paid for the promotion and this is not made clear.
After-sales service in a different language: e.g. marketing in English, after-sales services in Swedish
A trader who undertakes to provide after-sales service, but who only tells the consumer after he has committed to the transaction that this will be in a language other than the one in which they have communicated so far.
False use of 'Limited offers': “Special offer, today only!”
Falsely stating that a product will only be available for a very limited time, or that it will only be available on particular terms for a very limited time, in order to force an immediate decision. This deprives consumers of sufficient opportunity or time to make an informed choice.
False prize winning
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 there is no prize or other equivalent benefit. Also, where taking any action in relation to claiming the prize or other equivalent benefit is subject to the consumer paying money or incurring a cost.
Demanding payment for products which were not ordered by the consumer.
Persistent and unwanted selling: “With the third phone call maybe a contract will be agreed…”
Making persistent and unwanted solicitations by telephone, fax, e-mail or other remote media to promote a product or a service.
Falsely creating the impression of free offers: “Free sunglasses” or "Free ring tones on your gsm".
Describing a product as "gratis", "free", "without charge" or similar if the consumer has to pay anything other than the unavoidable cost of responding to the commercial practice and collecting or paying for delivery of the item.
False claims about winning: How to win the lottery
Claiming that products are able to facilitate winning games of chance.
Luring consumers to act as recruiters with the promise of compensation.
Using decoys to deceive the consumer
Promoting a product which resembles a known brand misleading the consumer to believe it is made by the same manufacturer when it is not.
Prizes: "Congratulations! You have won a prize"
A trader claiming to offer a competition or prize without awarding the prizes described or a reasonable equivalent.
False Market information
Traders using inaccurate information on a product or where it can be found, in order to lure the consumer into buying - when in reality the consumer could get the product elsewhere for a better price or under better conditions.
False claims about curative capacity: "Trickium 24 make you lose weight"
Falsely claiming that a product is able to cure illnesses, dysfunction or malformations.
Misleading order forms
Including in marketing material an invoice or similar document seeking payment which gives the consumer the impression that he has already ordered the marketed product when he has not.
Misleading impression of consumers’ rights: “Special for you”
Presenting rights which are already guaranteed by EU law to every consumer everywhere as something new or different which the trader is offering.
Marketing which plays on consumers' security fears:
Unduly playing on fear of security risks: “Making a materially inaccurate claim concerning the nature and extent of the risk to the personal security of the consumer or his family if the consumer does not purchase the product."
- Luring consumers with attractive advertising around special prices when the trader may know that he cannot in fact offer those products, or only has a few in stock at that price.
Insurance claims: no one picks up the phone
Requiring a consumer who wishes to claim on an insurance policy to produce documents which could not reasonably be considered relevant to the validity of the claim, or failing systematically to respond to correspondence, in order to dissuade a consumer from exercising his contractual rights.
Aggressive doorstep selling: "Yes, I will leave, once the paperwork is done"
Conducting personal visits to the consumer's home, ignoring the consumer's request to leave or not to return.
Pressure selling: "Yes, you can leave once the paperwork is done"
Creating the impression that the consumer cannot leave the premises until a contract is formed.