UOKIK PRESIDENT’S GUIDELINES ON PRICE REDUCTIONS
In connection with the implementation of the Omnibus Directive, as of January 1, 2023, new obligations have been imposed on entrepreneurs to provide information on price reductions of goods and services. In order to standardize the practices of entrepreneurs on the Polish market, in May 2023. The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection issued guidelines, a summary of which you will find in this article.
Who are the guidelines addressed to?
In the guidelines, the President of the UOKIK notes that the new obligations apply to stationary stores as well as online stores and trading platforms. Also, online intermediaries such as price comparison sites or trading platforms are responsible for fulfilling their obligations under the Act if they provide sellers with tools to display discounts. Entrepreneurs who conduct parallel sales in the B2B and B2C areas, as well as sellers operating in franchise, partnership or cooperative networks, should also pay attention to the guidelines. Also entrepreneurs, based outside the European Union, but directing their sales to consumers in Poland, should standardize practices in terms of price reductions in accordance with the guidelines.
Which obligations are covered by the guidelines of the President of the UOKIK
The most important guidelines presented by the President of the UOKIK concern the adjustment of practices in the market with respect to:
- informing about the reduction the price of goods or services and how to indicate the lowest price from 30 days before the reduction for a given product,
- application of unified rules on how to communicate price reductions of goods and services for both traditional and online sales,
- the moment when the obligation to inform arises.
How and when to communicate discounts
The UOKIK President’s guidelines include useful graphics that visualize correct practices when announcing discounts and promotions. The guidelines show that communicating price reductions should follow the following rules:
- reductions can be communicated in words, percentages, by crossing out the price or by the appropriate colour of the label. For example, the guidelines indicate that the use of the % sign alone to encourage consumers to enter a store or website in a marketing communication, without linking the sign to a specific product, does not create an obligation to report the lowest price of the 30 days,
- the number of prices presented next to a product should not exceed two or three,
- the obligation to inform arises when in any way information about the price reduction is communicated to the consumer. Even the use of colour schemes suggesting discounts, the comparison of a lower price with a higher one, as well as the use of suggestive slogans, i.e. “Black Friday”, “bargain”, “best prices”, “price hit”, “good price” can be considered as communicating a discount,
- the lowest price must be marked by signing it with the words “lowest price from 30 days before discount”. Due to limited space caused by technical conditions, it is possible to use an abbreviated explanation and so-called “tooltips” using the slogan “lowest price”, at the same time, the full explanation should be easily accessible to the consumer,
- if a good or service is offered for sale for less than 30 days, information on the lowest price, which was in effect for the period of offering the product until the date of introduction of the reduction, should be provided next to the information on the reduced price,
- obligation to inform about discounts may also arise in the case of the use of discounts resulting from a promotional code, even when they take a general form (discount “for everything”) – in that case, next to each of the products offered, the price obtainable after entering the discount code in the shopping cart should be presented. In some cases, issuing individual discount codes may also generate the information obligation in question.
What do the guidelines of the President of the UOKIK mean in practice for entrepreneurs
The guidelines presented by the President of the UOKIK impose on entrepreneurs the need to verify their existing practices of communicating price reductions on goods and services, as well as the manner in which they conduct sales actions and promotions in their company. The guidelines standardize practices related to the implementation of new obligations in a practical and casuistic manner. It is important to adjust within companies both the regulations and policies posted on websites in accordance with the guidelines presented, as well as to adjust sales processes, especially those on online channels.