ICPEN Country Report 2005 - Denmark


A walkthrough of Danish national activities in 2005.

1. The Danish Marketing Practices Act and the Price Marking and Display Act under Revision

The white paper “Marketing Practices and Price Information”, issued by the government-appointed Marketing Committee was released 15 March 2005 (available from the National Consumer Agency’s website – Danish only). It is against this background that a proposal to change the law was submitted to public enquiry during the summer of 2005. The final bill may be introduced in Autumn 2005.

The Danish Consumer Ombudsman is favourably disposed to the new proposal in that the interests of the consumers come to the fore through a more restrictive approach to hidden advertising and new rules on marketing activities in relation to children and young people. Further, price marking legislation will be included under the Marketing Practices Act. Finally, charges, fees etc. may well be regulated by the Act in the future.

2. Success stories

1. Nordic Consumer Ombudsmen inform the FTC about US Travel Scams

During the past couple of months, several consumers in Scandinavia have had substantial sums drawn from their accounts following calls from US-based travel agencies, who inform people that they have won a vacation. In fact, the consumers have only "won" the right to get a discount if they book a trip or the like.

The Nordic Consumer Ombudsmen find this particular marketing practice misleading and fraudulent, and they have decided to approach the FTC via ICPEN, the International Consumer Protection Network, to call on efforts to be taken against a number of named US companies.

3. Case studies

1. Unsolicited Electronic Communications

A telecommunications service provider was fined roughly € 300,000 for distributing unsolicited commercial communication and using discrediting statements to the detriment of consumers and other traders alike. The judgment rendered also stated that “electronic mail” means all types of messages sent electronically, whether distributed by means of existing or future forms and technology. The DCO is currently preparing another 10 anti-spam cases.

2. Billing and CDN Information

Calling number display information is not enough when carriers bill their subscribers. This is the conclusion of a recent judgment which thus acknowledges the practice established by the Danish Consumer Complaints Board following a considerable number of complaints. Being but one of many carriers to use this billing practice, the DCO is satisfied that the judgment puts an end to this and urges other carriers to follow suit.

3. Unfair Termination Terms

The provisional outcome of a leading case against a cable TV broadcaster makes it an offence to bind consumers for another twelve months should they fail to give notice in due time (the minimum subscription period is currently 12 months in Denmark). As a consequence, the broadcaster can no longer renew subscriptions automatically. Further, the DCO also presented a principal claim contending that subscriptions in general should not tie consumers for more than six months. This claim, however, was dismissed by the Court.

4. Covert marketing

In May 2005 the DCO released a new guideline on covert advertising and marketing against a background of an increasing number of queries. Product placement, advertorials and young people being “bought” to flash the latest tech gadget or clothing range among their peers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new – and disturbing – trends in marketing. The guideline explicates the above trends and serves as a helping hand for ad agencies, businesses etc. who want to steer clear of illegal or unethical stealth marketing.

A translated version of the media release will be available shortly.

5. Price information and flight booking

A DCO report scrutinizing six flight carriers and their price information concluded that, on the whole, fees, fuel taxes and other mandatory charges were not included in the fare advertised. This applies to discount fares in particular. The DCO calls for price transparency and he will continue to examine flight marketing practices.

6. Joint Nordic Position on Best Practice in the Telecommunications Market

Concurrent with his negotiations with the players in the Danish telecommunications market, the DCO has also played a part in drawing up a joint Nordic position on marketing of price information in connection with e-communication services. The contents of this position are included in the DCO guideline on best practice in the telecommunications market which took effect 1 April 2005.

7. Electronics retail chains and misleading price information

Earlier this year, three major Danish retailers in electronics were reported to the police on grounds of misleading price indications. Aided by a consultancy, the DCO examined was-now prices in the stores, in advertising material and online over a couple of months with somewhat disappointing results: The electronics retailers do not consistently comply with the rules on price information in the Marketing Practices Act and DCO guidelines.

A translated version of the media release will be available shortly.

8. SMS.ac – value-added text messages

The American company SMS.ac, which made its way into the Danish market via a supplier of value-added text message services, violated the Marketing Practices Act by distributing unsolicited value-added text messages. While recognizing its responsibility for this problem, the Danish telecommunications business has yet to decide whether to establish more consistent control procedures and thus follow DCO recommendations.

9. New Nordic Guideline – Ethical and Environmental Marketing Claims

In view of the increasing focus on and use of environmental and ethical marketing claims, the Nordic Consumer Ombudsmen have decided to adopt a new guideline which also go through the use of ethical marketing claims. It replaces the 1994 guideline on Environmental Marketing Claims. The new guideline, based on principles of good marketing practices in Nordic marketing law, discusses how to apply green and ethical statements, trademarks and label schemes.

4. Important news and events

1. www.hvadergodskik.dk – Best marketing practices - an online mini-encyclopedia for Danish business and trade (Danish only)

This new Internet service for Danish business and trade, launched in May, explains the do and don’ts of the Danish Marketing Practices Act and other relevant legislation in a plain and straightforward language. You may find thematic entries as well as entries that take you through the laws and legislation section by section.

 

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