Friday, 5 February 2010

'Free' when it's really NOT

Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC blacklists certain commercial practices in its Annex I. This means that these practices are considered unfair in all circumstances. On that list a practice of advertising a product/service as free when the consumer would in reality have to pay more than just the costs of delivery and responding to the advert is mentioned:

20. 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.

The Consumerist blog mentions today a US case in which the company Experian is being sued for deceptive advertisements. These adds made consumers believe that if they go to Freecreditreport.com website they would get a free credit report when in reality they needed to sign up for paying a $14.95 monthly credit monitoring service. This practice, in Europe, would clearly fall under the Section 20 of the Annex I of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

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