The Danish DIY retailer Silvan fined DKK 100,000

Silvan has been fined DKK 100,000 for acting in conflict with the prohibition against using mis-leading and improper statements laid down in the Danish Marketing Practices Act.

In August 2013 Silvan published a brochure in which it advertised wood protection in a can. Silvan advertised that the standard price was approximately DKK 1,000 a can but that the price when purchasing two cans was DKK 1,299.

In the week up to the publication of the brochure Silvan had marketed the wood protection at a price of approximately DKK 650 a can without it being specified in the marketing that it was a special offer. 

On such basis the Danish Consumer Ombudsman found that Silvan's marketing was misleading and reported the marketing to the police.

Silvan has acknowledged that the marketing of the wood protection in the brochure was incorrect and accepted to pay the fine of DKK 100,000.

The prohibition against misleading information laid down in the Danish Marketing Practices Act can be found in section 3 which stipulates that traders may not use any misleading or improper statements or omit material information if this is likely to materially distort consumers' or other traders' economic behaviour in the market.

The Danish Consumer Ombudsman's guidelines for price marketing define the prohibition against misleading information. The guidelines contain detailed requirements as to traders' comparisons with their own previous prices, for example the previous prices/current prices or the standard prices/bargain prices.

According to the guidelines, a price is only a "standard price" when a trader has charged the same price for a period of minimum six consec-utive weeks.

After the six consecutive weeks a trader's bar-gain price may only be offered for a period of two weeks. Then at least six consecutive weeks must pass before the "standard price" has been recreated or a new "standard price" has been created. However, the offer period may be long-er than two weeks provided that the marketing contains information about the duration of the offer period. But an offer period may never ex-ceed half the standard price period.

As an exception to the above standard price period and bargain price period a trader may run campaigns using the statement "standard price" for up to three days even if the standard price has not been charged for six weeks. Such campaigns of short duration do not interrupt the standard price period and accordingly six "new" weeks must lapse after the expiry of the three-day campaign before a two-week offer period may start.

The Silvan case shows that the Danish Consum-er Ombudsman keeps an eye on traders' price marketing and regularly supervises the area. Relatively big fines are also issued for violations of the prohibition against misleading information. For instance in 2011 Silvan paid a fine of DKK 200,000 in a similar case about misleading price marketing.

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