A worker of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK), pretending to be a customer, will soon be able to check whether sellers do not conceal important information about their offers.

Mystery shopper to protect consumers against fraudulant transactions

Mystery shopper to protect consumers against fraudulant transactions

The right to controlled purchases, searches, and broadcasting warning infomercials in national television – these are the new weapons the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection will use in the fight against dishonest companies.

Sales under control

The changes, which are designed to improve service, are included in a new draft amendment to the Act on competition and consumer protection.

The UOKiK will be able to carry out a controlled purchase in attempt to check if the seller does not violate the customer rights. This is particularly useful in tourism and financial sectors. A UOKiK worker will impersonate the client and find out whether, for example, the seller of a holiday package informs them of all travel costs. This way, the UOKiK will check if the trader does not conceal important information.

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The amended act will also give the UOKiK the right to carry out searches in companies which harm the collective interests of consumers, and to obtain necessary evidence, such as documents or data carriers.

Today, the UOKiK has only 12 months to prosecute a company which has broken the customer protection law. The new act project is to extend the process to three years.

Media will help

The President of the Office will be able to post warnings on public television and radio. Viewers will then become aware that they need to watch out for faults in electronic equipment from China, risky insurance savings accounts or misleading advertisements. Television broadcast has greater range and power of influence than a message on the website of the UOKiK.

Financial advisers, beware!

Financial advisers and insurers will have to be careful. To sell a savings account with a monthly premium to an 80 year-old for 10 to 20 years, or grant an easy loan to a person who does not have credit capacity, is a breach of the collective interests of consumers. Offering financial services which do not meet the needs of consumers due to their age, state of health or financial situation, will be prohibited.

This approach is meant to deter sellers from pushing products people neither want nor need. Violation of the act will be punishable with up to 10% of the company’s annual revenue.

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