The Consumer Ombudsman had monitored the websites of several companies in the sports equipment sector since August 2016 in order to determine how percentages, comparison prices, or other expressions referring to discounts, are used in the marketing of the companies in the field. The aim of using comparison prices and discount percentages is to create the impression in the minds of consumers that the discounts are considerable. However, based on the Consumer Ombudsman’s monitoring, the products might never have been offered at the stated comparison prices at all, and, hence, the discount percentages had not been genuine. In addition to this, product prices might have occasionally been raised for a very short period, followed by advertisements of a discount for a considerably long time.
Based on the monitoring, the Consumer Ombudsman issued injunctions in June 2017 against Intersport Finland Oy (Intersport and Budget Sport), L-Fashion Group Oy (TopSport), Partioaitta Oy, Scandinavian Outdoor Oy, SGN Sportia Oy, Sportia-Lahti Oy and Stadium Oy. The injunctions were enforced with penalty payments of EUR 100,000.
The injunctions were related to the meeting held in March 2016 between the Consumer Ombudsman and key sports equipment companies operating in Finland. In the meeting, the rules concerning sale and discount marketing were reviewed with the companies, and it was agreed that the companies would refrain from price marketing that was misleading to the consumers. However, the companies that received the injunction did not change their illegal practices despite their promises.
Scandinavian Outdoor Oy, SGN Sportia Oy and L-Fashion Group Oy objected to the injunctions issued against them, which thus became void. The Consumer Ombudsman took the companies to Market Court in November 2017.
The Consumer Ombudsman also imposed an injunction on Suomen Retkitukku Oy in November 2017 and enforced the injunction with a penalty payment. The company did not demonstrate that it had ever charged the comparison price for the products that the injunction was based on. The company’s marketing was such that it was likely to hamper consumers’ understanding of the normal price levels of the company and, consequently, of the actual benefit of the reduced prices.