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Consumer Authority imposes fine upon photographic studio for misleading recruitment of models via the internet

The Consumer Authority has imposed a fine of EUR 100,000 upon the company for offering photo shoots in a misleading and aggressive manner on the internet. Young people were approached via social networking sites, such as Hyves, encouraging them to make an appointment for a photo shoot. It was suggested that the 'candidate' had been chosen specifically due to his or her appearance and that the photo shoot would form a step towards a modelling career. It was also suggested that the 'lucky individual' would be made a special, one-off offer at a reduced rate that would only be valid for a limited time.

In practice, this did not prove to be the case, and there was evidence of misleading and aggressive recruitment. The terms and conditions under which the services were provided did not comply with the regulations either. The Consumer Authority imposed this high fine on the company as a result of its misleading and aggressive practices directed at a vulnerable group of people. By doing so, the enforcement authority is alerting consumers to the fact that they should watch out for these practices that occur on social networking sites.

This issue had been drawn to the attention of the Consumer Authority via complaints received by its information desk, ConsuWijzer. The Consumer Authority has established violations of various provisions of the Unfair Commercial Practices Act [Wet op de oneerlijke handelspraktijken]. The recruitment of the chosen candidates was carried out in a misleading and aggressive manner. The information provided with regard to the terms and conditions under which the service was supplied was insufficient and contravened regulations. Consumers were faced with demand notes, measures to recover outstanding amounts and price increases if they failed to attend the appointment they had made.

The company is entitled to lodge a notice of objection against this decision.