KR200,000 For Unsolicited Postal & Telemarketing
Aon Insurance brokers allegedly contacted some 4,000 people via post, and some 1,000 via telephone with unsolicited advertisements. All were registered on the respective Robinson’s List (Do Not Mail, Do Not Call), and were contacted due to Aon’s vendor’s failure to scrub contact lists. As Aon was responsible for its vendor’s activities, a fine of kr200,000 (~$3,000) was issued.
jbho: a reminder to keep tabs on your vendors, and make sure opt-outs and scrubbing lists are up to date.
KR140,000 For Limited Discount Offer
Profil Optik allegedly posted flyers that advertised in large type: “50% off most frames.” However, a significantly smaller typeface that ran vertically along the edge stated: “Valid on purchase of complete glasses and cannot be combined with other offers and discounts.” Consumers complained the limitations were only made known after selecting frames and attempting to make a purchase. The Ombudsman found that consumers were unlikely to notice the restriction, and thus unlikely to get the promised discount. Therefore, a fine of kr140,000 (~ $19,000) was assessed.
jbho: a reminder any limitations on an offer must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed near the triggering claim, and presented in a way that consumers are likely to notice, read, and understand
Here it appears that although Profil Optik avoided absolutes, the limitations may have invalidated the “most” claim. So remember also that disclaimers can’t contradict the claim.
KR119,000 For Misleading Interest Rates
Quick loan provider Ferratum allegedly mislead consumers about APRs by basing its interest rates on a 360 day year instead of a 365 day year. As a result, the cost of borrowing advertised to consumers was less than the actual amount. Additionally, interest was only presented as an amount, and not as a percentage as required by the Marketing Act. Ferratum has since corrected the interest rate claims, but not in time to avoid a kr119,000 (~$17,000) fine.
jbho: reminder that Reg Z type requirements apply globally.
KR300,000 For Misleading Interest Rates
Payday loan provider Vivus allegedly advertised misleading interest by basing them on 30 days instead of 365 days. As a result, interest rates were listed as 19% when that actual APR was 730.1%. Thus the ads violated the Marketing Act and Vivus was assessed a fine of kr300,000 (~$43,000).
jbho: reminder that Reg Z type requirements apply globally.
KR20,000 For Telemarketing Cold Calls
Telco TDC allegedly made unsolicited telemarketing calls to numbers it a purchased from list broker We Love Leads. The numbers were allegedly obtained through online sweepstakes/contests by We Love Leads, who argued the online forums were how it obtained consent for third-party TDC to make the calls. The court determined We Love Leads never obtained a valid consent (something TDC should have verified) and fined each party kr10,000 (~$1,500).
jbho: a reminder that many international jurisdictions do not permit bundling of consent. And that third-party marketing requires a qualified opt-in consent (i.e., say who will be doing the marketing).
Also, another reminder that if you are going to source data from third parties, make sure to perform due diligence to ensure the data is collected in a fair and lawful manner. Additionally, get representations and warranties that you have consent to use that data for the desired purposes, and make sure you have well-constructed contractual agreements to make sure vendor obligations are clearly defined, and liability is appropriately distributed.
KR15,000 In Personal Liability For ‘Surreptitious’ Advertising
Media Xpress allegedly designed ads for a lighting company that presented the ads as editorial content. In addition to fining the company kr30,000 (~$4,400), the editor-in-chief was personally fined kr15,000 (~$2,200) for his role in the alleged violation. Media Xpress has informed the Consumer Ombudsman they have implemented measures to avoid similar violations in the future.
jbho: Native advertising is a hot topic, and regulators are stepping up enforcement all over the world. A reminder to clearly and conspicuously identify any sponsored content.
KR250,000 For 27,000 Spam Texts
Taxa 4×35 allegedly used numbers obtained from a former partner to send text messages ‘informing’ some 27,283 consumers about its own Taxi service and app. The texts read (loosely translated):
“Serviceinfo: ClickATaxa has terminated its relationship with TAXA 4×35. This means that TAXA 4×35 will no longer operate rides you book with the ClickATaxa App. if you would like to continue using Copenhagen’s largest taxi company, download the TAXA 4×35 App [Link].”
Taxa 4×35 argued the messages were operational, but the court ruled the purpose was to solicit business, and consent was required to send the texts. Given Taxa 4×35 failed to get consent, and failed to provide an opt-out or opt-out information, the kr250,000 (~$35,700) fine was warranted.
jbho: don’t try to overload an operational message with marketing. And a reminder that the purposes of a message turns on the perception of the recipient (or the courts), and not your intent.
Ford Cited For Native Advertising
Eleven Ford ‘enthusiasts’ posted images of Ford vehicles on their Instagram feeds, but allegedly failed to disclose the posts were motivated by their relationships with Ford. The posts included no disclosures (did not use words such as ‘advertising,’ or ‘ad’), and simple hashtags (#ford-danmark, #ford, @forddanmark) were insufficient to clarify the posts were really advertising. Therefore, the posts violated the Marketing Practices Act and the Ombudsman has referred to the matter to the enforcement division.
jbho: if you are going to present sponsored content, you must make clear at every stage (linking to, on the page, and in the content) that the content is advertising.
And as a reminder, according to the FTC, Native Advertising is an advertisement that is dressed up to look like, or mimic, editorial content. The ads can appear in a wide variety of forms, including written narratives, videos, infographics, images, animations, in-game modules, and playlists on streaming services. This formatting can blur the distinction between advertising and non-commercial content, meaning the design, style, and behavior of the digital media is presented so that an ad can be indistinguishable from its surroundings.
Per enforcement I’ve seen, disclosure language in the ‘Don’t’ column includes: “Brand Publisher”, “Brand Sponsor”, “Promoted, “Promoted Stories,” “Presented by [X],” “Brought to You by [X],” “Promoted by [X],” and “Sponsored by [X].”
Drug Store Cited For Misstated Discounted Rates
Matas ran promotions on clearance items, with decreasing sales prices staggered over time (25% off, then 40% off, etc.). Matas advertised the discounted prices as percent off the initial price, and not as a percent off the last advertised price. The Ombudsman ruled that an initial cost was irrelevant when a price had been reduced several times. Since items had already been marketed as 25% off, the subsequent ‘Save 40%’ claim was misleading, as consumers would believe savings were more than they were. The ads therefore must be pulled. Matas has agreed to adjust its future marketing accordingly.
jbho: discount rates must be based on an actual price, supported by evidence of the price basis (how a company actually listed prices: MSRP, etc.), and we must disclose the basis for the pricing to consumers.
The math here is a little complicated, so here’s an example. Say a $100 product was offered for 25% off, making the sale price $75. If the product is then offered at 40% off of the initial base price of $100, then the new sale price is $60 – a savings of $15. However, if the 40% were taken off of the new base price of $75, the new sale price would be $45 – a savings of $30. Not an insignificant difference.