Regulation on Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices (“Regulation”) was amended in a way to include new measures and rules to regulate advertisements containing misleading price information and to protect consumers against unfair commercial practices. The amendments were enacted on February 1, 2022 and entered into force on March 1, 2022.
According to new rules enacted in the Regulation; additional measures were implemented to protect consumers against advertisements containing misleading price information and discount sales promotions. One of the most prominent rules is that the lowest price applied within last thirty days prior to the application of the discount should be taken as a basis in determining the sales price of any good or service before the discount.
In addition, the “Guideline on Advertisements Containing Price Information, Discount Sales Advertisements and Commercial Practices” (“Guideline”) was prepared by the Advertisement Board operating within the body of Ministry of Commerce. The Guideline took effect as from April 12, 2022.
The purpose of the Guideline is to guide all persons, institutions and organizations related with advertisements, advertising agencies, media organizations, vendors, providers, intermediary service providers about advertisements containing price information, discount sales advertisements and commercial practices. In addition, it is aimed to protect the consumers by providing the transparency of the pricing information in the advertisements by giving explanatory examples. Legal rules enacted by the Guideline are gathered under four main sections namely; general principles, discount sales advertisements, advertisements containing price information and liabilities.
Under the principles section, the Guideline sets out main principles and concrete examples for how to use price related expressions in advertisements. In ruling these principles, the protection of the rights of the general consumer masses were considered and sensitivities towards groups such as elders, disabled people and children, which are expressed as sensitive consumer groups were considered. Some of these principles are as follows:
- Terms such as “all”, “everything” cannot be used unless a price or discount advertisement applies to all goods or services in the store or in a specific category.
- In advertisements related with discount sales campaigns, the words "up to", "from", "to" must be included in legible sizes. The scope of the goods declared to be subject to discount sale with these phrases should meet the reasonable expectation of the consumer.
- In order not to enable the consumer to make a sudden decision and deprive him of the necessary opportunity or time to make an informed choice, it cannot be stated that a good or service will be offered in a very limited period of time, contrary to the truth.
- Additional care is required in sales advertisements and commercial practices aimed at sensitive consumer groups such as children, elder or disabled people. In discount sales advertisements for children; (i) expressions creating perception that the price is low should not be used, (ii) children should not be directly encouraged to persuade their parents or others to acquire a good or service, (iii) expressions that encouraging children to make a contract for the acquisition of goods or services should not be used.
In this context, the regulations for advertisements containing price information, which are aimed to inform the consumer honestly and clearly about the price of the service or product to be purchased, are included in Article 6 of the Guideline. Some of these rules are as follows:
- The price presented to consumers in advertisements must be the total selling price of the good or service, including all taxes.
- Sales prices should be stated as “Turkish Lira”, “TL” or “₺”.
- If there are expenses arising from the delivery of the goods or services and to be paid by the consumer such amount should be informed to the consumers. If the amount is not certain, consumers should be informed about the calculation method.
- In advertisements where installment amounts are given, the total price of the advertised good or service and the number of installments should be displayed together with the installment amount in a readable size or should be indicated audibly.
- If there is a time or stock limit regarding the validity of the price, this period and stock amount should be clearly stated in the advertisements.
The Guideline included enlightening rules about discount sales advertisements. Some of the prominent rules are as follows:
- In discount sales advertisements the price before the discount, the start and end dates of the discounted sale should be stated. If the quantity of the goods or services offered for sale at a discount is limited this amount must further be clearly and intelligibly announced in the advertisement.
- In discount sales advertisements, expressions or images that may mislead consumers by causing confusion about which goods or services will be subject to discounted sale or how much discount will be applied, or that may create the impression that more discounts are applied than in reality, cannot be included.
- In case a seller or supplier sells at different prices through different sales channels and/or sales points, the lowest price applied in the relevant sales channel/point within the last 30 days should be taken as the basis for determining the sales price before the discount. It is against the law that a product is offered for sale on the same e-commerce platform and by the same seller with different discount rates over different extensions.
In terms of liability; it is clearly regulated that advertisers are responsible for price displays, discount sales announcements, stock notifications and commercial applications published in any media. It is further explained in detail with clear examples under which conditions intermediary service providers can be responsible as advertisers.
As a result, the Guideline, which was prepared by the Advertisement Board considering both the amendments made in the Regulation and current market conditions, aims to protect the rights of consumers by preventing advertisements that are not clear enough or that may be misleading for consumers, while introducing highly protective rules regarding advertisements containing price information.
First published by GALA Blog, in 16.06.2022