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Regulating unfair commercial practices

​​​About the law

Following the debate of a Report and Proposition on the draft Consumer Protection (Unfair Practices) (Jersey) Law lodged by the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, the law was unanimously approved in the States Assembly on Wednesday 21 Febraury 2018. The law will come into force seven days after the Appointed Day Act.

Protecting consumers and businesses​

The law is designed to protect both consumers and businesses, covering all business to consumer transactions.

Businesses that deal fairly and honestly with their customers may not need to change the way they work at all. 

To make sure you’re treating your customers properly, you and your managers should read and understand the new proposed law when the details are published on the States Assembly website.

The law will put a stop to aggressive selling techniques and misinforming and misleading people about products or services.

If you don’t comply with this new law, you may be investigated by Trading Standards and you may be asked to give an assurance that you will immediately stop the unfair commercial practice.

Contact Trading Standards for further advice.

Benefits for your business

Businesses will no longer have to face unfair competition from traders who use underhand practices.

The changes will also simplify consumer protection, making it clear which commercial practices are banned.

Regulating unfair commercial practices

The law will ban traders in all sectors from using unfair commercial practices towards consumers.

A practice will be deemed unfair if it harms or is likely to harm the economic interests of the average consumer.

For example, when a shopper is unfairly pressured into buying goods or is given wrong information about the goods they have purchased by the trader.

The law will cover a general ban on conduct below a level which consumers should expect, eg honest market practice and good faith. This general ban is to protect all consumers.

There are 31 specific practices that will be banned outright. You’ll find the list below.​

Endorseme​​nts or authorisations

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(a)​You should not claim that you are a signatory to a code of conduct when you’re not.
1(​b)​You must not display a trust mark or quality mark (or equivalent) without authorisation to do so.​
1(​c)​You must not claim that a code of conduct is endorsed by a public or other body if it is not.
​1(d)

​You must not claim that you, your business or product has been approved / endorsed / authorised by a public or private body if that is untrue.

If you have approval / endorsement / authorisation, you must meet the required terms.

For example, a plumber who claims that he is ‘Gas Safe’ registered, when he is not.

Product availa​bility

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(​e)

You must not lure a consumer into believing that they can buy a product at a price when you already know that you can’t supply that product or have limited availability and you haven’t made the consumer aware of this.

This is known as ‘bait’ advertising.

​1(f)You must not lure consumers to purchase a product and then:
  • refuse to show the advertised item to the consumer
  • refuse to take orders for it or deliver it within a reasonable time
  • show a defective sample of the product to convince the consumer to purchase a different product (known as bait and switch)
1(​g) 

​You must not falsely claim that a product or special offer will only be available for a very limited time, or that it will only be available on particular terms for a very limited time, in order to force a consumer into making a quick decision to buy that product.

This can take away the customer’s opportunity to make an informed decision.

​Communicating in other langu​ages

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice 
1(​h)​If your aftersales service is only available in English and where you have communicated with the consumer in another language, you must inform them of this before the sale takes place.

​Illegally selling goods

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice ​
1(i)​​You must not state or create the impression that goods can be legally be sold when they can’t.

Using consumer rights to make a sale

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(​j)

​You must not use legal consumer rights as a distinctive feature of your offer.

For example, you should not claim that refunding or replacing faulty goods is only available in your shop.

​Advertorials and the ​​media

The following commercial practice will be banned:​

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(​k)​You must not use editorial content in the media to promote a product where the promotion has been paid for by a trader (advertorial) without making this clear to the consumer.

Risks to personal secu​rity

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(​l)​You must not make a false claim regarding risks to the personal security of consumers or their families if they don’t buy your product.

Imitation goo​ds

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(m)​You must not promote a product similar to one made by a particular manufacturer if this could deliberately mislead the consumer into believing that it was made by the same manufacturer when it is not.

Pyramid sche​​mes

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(​n)​You must not establish, operate or promote a pyramid promotional scheme where a consumer pays for the opportunity to receive money that comes from the introduction of other consumers into the scheme, rather than from the sale of products.

​​​Closing down or moving premises

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(​o)​You must not claim that you are about to cease trading or move premises when you are not.

Claim​s about a product or market conditions

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
​1(p)

​​You must not claim that a product can help you win a game of chance.

For example a lottery or scratch card.

1(​q)​You must not falsely claim that a product is able to cure illnesses, dysfunction or malformations.
1(​r)

​You must not give a consumer materially inaccurate information on market conditions relating to a product (or on the possibility of finding that product) to convince the consumer to buy that product at conditions which are worse than normal market conditions.

For example, a trader bidding under a separate account for their own goods on eBay in order to increase the price the consumer will pay for those goods.

​Awarding competition priz​​​es

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(​s)​You must not claim to offer a competition or prize promotion without awarding the prizes described or a reasonable equivalent.

Free produ​​cts

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(t)​You must not claim that a product is ‘free’, ‘without charge’ or similar if the consumer has to pay anything other than the unavoidable cost of responding and collecting or paying for delivery of the item.

​​​Seeking payment

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(u)​You must not include in you marketing materials any invoice or document seeking payment which may give the impression that the consumer has ordered the product when they have not.

​Trade st​atus

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(v)

​You must not claim to be, or create the impression that you are, a consumer when you are acting in your trade, business or professional capacity.

For example, a trader who advertises a used car for sale, does not mention that this is a trade sale and parks the car on the road to give the impression it is a private sale.

​Aftersales (availability in the ​​EU)

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
1(w)​You must not give the impression to a consumer that aftersales services for their product are available within the European Economic Area (EEA) if this service is only available in Jersey.

​Putting pressure on the con​​sumer

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
2(a)​You must not create the impression that the consumer cannot leave premises until they have bought goods or services.
2(b)

​You must not ignore a consumer’s request to leave (and  /or not return) when visiting their home.

There are legal exceptions to this, for example Viscount Officers collecting debts.

2(c)

​You must not make persistent and unwanted contact with a consumer. For example:

  • phone calls
  • faxes
  • emails
  • texts

There are legal exceptions to this, for example Viscount Officers collecting debts.

​Insurance clai​​​​ms

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
2(d)​You must not ask a consumer to provide unnecessary and irrelevant information to prove a valid insurance claim, or fail to respond to important correspondence both of which could put the consumer off making that insurance claim.

Advertising to​ children

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
2(e)

​In advertisements you must not directly encourage a child to buy a product or persuade other adults to buy it for them.

Payment for goods not​​​ ordered

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
2(f)

You must not demand payment for goods that were not ordered by a consumer (unless they have agreed to substitute goods in accordance with the Distance Selling (Jersey) Law).

For example, a trader writes to consumers informing them of a new quality dishcloth which they are selling for £2.99. In the letter, the trader encloses one of the cloths for the
consumer to inspect and says that if the consumer does not return the cloth within seven days, then action will be taken to collect the £2.99.

Using guilt to make​​ a sale

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice
2(g)​You must not tell a consumer that your job or livelihood will be at risk if they do not buy the product or service you are offering.

Claiming a pri​ze

The following commercial practice will be banned:

​Ref.​Banned practice​
​2(h)​You must not create a false impression that the consumer has already won, will win (or will on doing a particular act win) a prize, when in fact there is no prize, or, in order to claim the prize, the consumer has to pay money or incur a cost.​
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