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Dutch puzzle book publisher fined for having misled consumers

14-09-2015

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has imposed a fine of EUR 200,000 on publisher Calatus B.V., which publishes the Editie Enigma puzzle books among other titles, for having engaged in unfair commercial practices.

Calatus provided misleading information, and left out critical information about its offerings in telemarketing calls. ACM additionally imposes fines on three individuals who exercised de facto leadership over these violations.

Anita Vegter, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “Consumers are only able to make well-informed decisions if businesses provide them with correct and complete information about their products and services. Only then will they continue to have confidence in the market. ACM takes action against businesses and individuals that put consumers on the wrong track.”

Between October 7, 2013 and May 20, 2014, Calatus made telemarketing calls to consumers, offering them a six-month subscription to puzzle book Editie Enigma. The offer was a six-month subscription and seven issues (every four weeks). With this offer, consumers received the first issue free of charge. If a consumer did not want the subscription, they would have to cancel their subscription within two weeks after receiving that free first issue.

In these telemarketing calls, Calatus acted in violation of the Dutch Unfair Commercial Practices Act. Consumers were given misleading information about the product they were offered. It was possible for consumers to be under the impression that would receive a free puzzle book, all the more so because they had indicated in a previous survey that they could be contacted about such an offer. The real objective, however, was to sell these consumers a six-month subscription. In addition, Calatus failed to provide consumers with crucial information about the subscription such as its total price. As a result, consumers possibly made a decision about this offer that they might not have taken, if they had received all the relevant information.

Calatus has indicated that it has already adjusted its commercial practices. ACM has not verified this claim.

17-07-2017: The Court has ruled on appeal in this case. For the complete text of that ruling (in Dutch), please refer to this page.