Alza was punished for infringing Black Friday action

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The Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) ordered Alza.hu Kft., The operator of the Alza.hu webshop, and its parent company, the Czech Alza.cz as, to pay a significant fine of HUF 892 million, for which the Alza webshop

In announcing the decision, the GVH expressly points out that the purpose of the outstanding fine was to significantly reduce the deceptive practices that often occur in similar promotional periods in online markets. The change in the proportions is well indicated by the fact that in 2017 Extreme Digital received a fine of only HUF 20 million for essentially the same reason that Alza was now punished.

alza's showroom in Hungary (source: alza.hu) [19659005] The competition authority investigated the advertising campaigns of Alza's Black Friday campaign, which was announced a total of six times between January 2018 and February 2019 (the investigation was not initiated ex officio but as a result of a complaint). The web store promised large discounts of “up to 80%” for promotional periods in consumer advertisements on television, radio, newspaper ads, newsletters and online. In comparison, the Office's investigation found that

  • the discount of 80% or more indicated in the advertisements applied only to products which were not figuratively presented or similar in the advertising campaign. Most electronic and household appliances appeared in the advertisements, while only a few clothing and toy items (eg soccer balls) as well as watches and phone cases were available with outstanding discounts.
  • 10-20 products were actually in the campaigns (discount products are typically much less than 1%) was available at a discount of 80% or more. According to the established practice of the GVH, the discount shown must apply to at least 10% of the discounted products. Alza's favorable offer was thus far below the expected value, which is particularly disproportionate compared to the fact that more than 80,000 products are available on the company's website.

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The GVH imposed a competition supervision fine of HUF 862 million on misleading advertising, based on the revenue generated from advertising campaigns. The authority also imposed an additional HUF 30 million procedural fine on the company and its Czech parent company for failing to provide incomplete and contradictory cost data for the campaigns in question during the official procedure.

In addition to the fine, the company undertook to introduce a corporate compliance program for future violations. and certify it to the competition authority. In connection with Alza, another competition supervision investigation is being carried out in parallel, launched by the GVH in the spring with the aim of finding out whether the webshop operator used an aggressive sales method that might have prompted consumers to make a hasty, quick decision. For the same reason, at the end of April, the agency imposed the largest fine of HUF 2.5 billion on the operator of the Dutch online accommodation portal booking.com.

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