1 January 2007 also saw the repeal of two previous bans on collateral gifts/sales promotions and quantity restrictions, respectively. From this date it is legal to put something extra into the bargain in relation to a purchase and businesses may once again restrict the number of units available to the individual consumer for purchase.
The ban on competitions conditioned upon purchase is maintained.
The special ban on coupons and trading stamps is also maintained in that all businesses and traders must comply with it. The exception in force till recently in relation to flight bonus schemes was repealed and became effective as of 1 July 2006.
Section 9(1) of the Marketing Practices Act sets out that the conditions surrounding an offer must be stated in a clear and accessible manner; moreover, the value of potential additional services must also be stated. The intention behind the provision is to ensure that the consumer is given a real possibility of assessing the pros and cons of offers that include sales promotions, e.g. collateral gifts. Where a consumer buys a shirt and a tie is added as part of the bargain, the consumer is entitled to be informed of the actual value of the tie (the collateral gift) and potential conditions that may apply in order to get the tie. If the business fails to do so, the consumer is not ensured the sufficient level of transparency required to evaluate the total offer.
When special offers are only available in a limited supply or for a limited period of time, this must be clearly indicated in order to ensure the consumer the best basis for evaluating the possibility of getting the bargain at the favourable price. See section 9(2) for a definition.
Violations of section 9 are punishable.
In view of the fact that bans on coupons, trading stamps, draws and prize competitions remain in force, the DCO has issued guidance on how to interpret section 9 on sales promotions.
A summary of the new guidance is available in English
See section 9 of the Marketing Practises Act.