With a decision dated 1st March 2022, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) fined the company Tiger Group S.r.l (“Tiger Group”), which specialises in consumer electronics, 1 million euros for misleading commercial practices against consumers.
According to the AGMC, Tiger Group carried out two separate unfair commercial practices, in breach of the rules of the Consumer Code.
The first contested practice related to the pre-contractual stage, specifically the point of concluding the order, and concerned the disclosure of false information regarding the availability and delivery times of the online products. Furthermore, there were issues with the incorrect management of the online sales process, in particular with reference to the practice of taking immediate payment despite the unavailability of the products, and in some cases, the unilateral cancellation of orders.
The AGMC noted in this regard that the consumer, not adequately informed about the actual availability of the products and the methods of execution of the contract, was not in a position to verify the convenience of the purchase before making the purchase itself.
The second contested practice, relating to the step immediately following the order conclusion, concerned the delayed/non-delivery of products, an inadequate after-sales service, the omission of information about the status of the order and the lack of a tracking service. In addition, according to the AGMC, Tiger Group also hindered the consumer’s right to withdraw from the contract and obtain any refunds due to them contractually and by law.
With regard to such conduct, the AGMC established the breach of articles 20, 21, 22, 24 and 25 of the Consumer Code that sanction unfair and, in this case, misleading and aggressive commercial practices. i.e. practices that are capable of misleading the consumer on essential elements of the contract which include the characteristics of a product, the conditions of the offer and the rights of the consumer which could lead to the consumer making a commercial decision that he would not have otherwise made. In this particular case, the AGMC considered that Tiger Group’s conduct was likely to induce the consumer to purchase products, regardless of the actual availability, effectively limiting the consumer’s ability to make an informed choice of provider.
In conclusion, the AGMC has imposed on Tiger Group a pecuniary administrative sanction of € 500,000 for each established unfair commercial practice, for a total of € 1,000,000.00.