Loud statements like “We are the best company on the market”, outdated prices, careless preservation of confidential data and many other factors can attract the attention of the Antimonopoly Committee and the State Consumer Protection Service to your business.
How to avoid fines and fix your landing from a legal point of view?
For statements such as "We are №1 in the market" you can get a fine from the Antimonopoly Committee
Some marketers use loud expressions such as “We are №1 in the market”, “We have the lowest prices” or “Our product has no analogues” when packaging a business. It is possible to add such statements only if it is really true.
If the company is not the market leader or sells goods at the lowest prices, claiming the opposite, it violates the law "On protection against unfair competition." The Antimonopoly Committee may declare such promotional materials "misleading", impose a fine and oblige the site and business to comply with the requirements of antitrust law.
What are the sanctions for violations:
- Fine up to 5% from sales for the previous reporting period
- Compensation in double the amount of damage caused by the dissemination of inaccurate information
- Prohibition on the use of products and materials with misleading information.
In 2015, mobile operators Lifecell and Kyivstar were fined UAH 19.5 and 21.3 million, respectively. They pointed out on their websites that calls were charged per second, but in reality it was per minute.
The committee also monitors smaller businesses. In 2017, he fined the manufacturer of medicines UAH 70,000. The company used on the website and product packaging images of the award, which did not receive. In addition to the fine, they had to remove this badge from all manufactured goods.
In April 2018, the Antimonopoly Committee fined the producer of yogurt "Galychyna" 68 thousand UAH. The inscription "From the pure Carpathians" on the site and products was recognized as "misleading". As it turned out, the company's plants are located in the Volyn region, and the purchase of raw materials in the Carpathian regions has not been carried out for more than six months.
The fact that the manufacturer has a registered trademark with the text "From the pure Carpathians" did not change the situation. Antitrust officials explained that even the presence of a trademark does not give the right to disseminate inaccurate information among consumers.
Use only verifiable information on the sales site
If the product is certified by a research institute, it is better to write specifically: "Our product is certified by such an institute", rather than the abstract "Approved by doctors" or "Recommended by leading cosmetologists".
Avoid saying "We are the best company on the market." If you have helped the client and are proud of what you do, it is better to post a real review on the site. Otherwise, it may end up with complaints from consumers or competitors against you.
You are obliged to sell the goods at the price indicated on the website. Keep track of its relevance
When selling goods or providing services, you offer the user to enter into a "connection agreement" with you - the person by default agrees to the terms set forth on the site. This means that all information must be valid and understandable.
First of all, it is necessary to monitor the relevance of prices. The price indicated on the site is a public offer - by law you are obliged to sell the product at this price.
If you refuse to sell the goods to the customer at the price stated on the website, he has the right to apply to the State Service for Consumer Protection or immediately to court. This can lead to fines and additional inspections of your company.
There are two ways out: control the relevance of prices and working conditions on the site or make a note “Prices listed on the site are subject to change. Check the price with the manager by phone.
How to limit responsibility to users and why
Facebook has limited its liability to users to $100 or "the amount a person has spent in the last 12 months."
If a user sues on Facebook, he will not be able to count on more than $100 or the total annual payment
Limitation of liability does not guarantee that there will be no problems in the future. But site owners are better to insure and prescribe additional items in the agreement with the user. This is easier than then proving the unfoundedness of the size of lawsuits.
If you have a software product, the restriction text may be as follows:
“You acknowledge that (…) is not responsible for any damage to your computer system or loss of data resulting from the download of any such material. Use of this website constitutes your agreement to these terms and disclaimers of any claims against (() and its affiliates. (…) Reserves the right at any time in its sole discretion to supplement, delete or in any way modify parts of this disclaimer“.
The following restriction can be added to the information site:
“By using this site, you agree that (…) will not be liable for any direct or indirect damages from the use of the information and materials contained on this site.“.
Personal data: name, location, contacts, interests and online identifiers. Confidential information: genetic and biometric indicators, racial and ethnic origin.
Special attention should be paid to such a policy if you have clients from the European Union. This is due to the GDPR regulation, which became mandatory in May 2018.
If an EU citizen leaves identifiable information on your site, be sure to enter these basic points:
- Separate consent must be obtained if you are going to send an email to a person.
Keep information about the date and time of all the above consents. If there are any disputes, you can easily prove your point.
Tatiana Petrenko, lawyer
partner of the law firm Bargen
The original article in Russian is published on Genius Marketing website