Collective interests of consumers, case XVII Ama 125/08

November 26th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

A person who bought CHIO CHIPS produced by the Lorenz Bahlsen Snack-World, filed a complaint to the representation of the Office of Competition and Consumers Protection in Wrocław. This dissatisfied consumer argued that being in the store, he chose CHIO chips and not the other products that were sold in a similar price, because he was attracted by a draw where he could win some nice prizes. However, he became disappointed because when he did open the package and read the coupon, it turned out that the draw was already over. The date of the draw was shown on the inside part of a special bar attached to chips’ bag, but it could be difficult to read after the break of the package. Because of the lack of a clear declaration with regard to the end date of the draw, the Company was fined 22000 PLN for the practice of contravention of collective interests of consumers. According to the Polish Act on Protection of Competition and Consumers – APCC – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie konkurencji i konsumentów) 16 February 2007 published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 50, item 331, with subsequent amendments, it was a violation of the obligation to provide consumers with reliable, true and complete information regarding the product.

The Polish Court of Competition and Consumer Protection upheld the contested decision in its judgment, case file XVII Ama 125/08. Such essential information as the period of promotion/draw or the validity date of the product cannot be hidden inside the bar of the package and thus not visible at first glance. Such information must be readily available. The Court ruled that the date of a draw should be indicated clearly on the product packaging and incomplete information is misleading. The judgment is not final yet, the company may file an appeal.