The Finnish Consumer Agency provided guidance to companies a year ago about marketing pay-TV channel packages. Deficiencies in marketing do not seem to have declined, however. Consumers continue to send in new reports about misleading advertisements. Over the past year, marketing deficiencies have been addressed with some individual businesses.
Channel packages may be viewed over cable, antenna or satellite connections. The service for cable households, however, may have different content or contract terms than the channel package seen in antenna households. Advertisements must clearly state which types of reception a channel package is intended for and in which cases the given information applies. Consumers must not be left with the wrong impression.
Price of package not revealed until the bill arrives?
The pricing of channel packages now is often chopped up into various connection, monthly, and card charges so that it is difficult to make out the overall price. Already at the marketing stage, however, consumers should get a clear picture of how much a service will cost them. Otherwise they cannot judge whether the offer is a good one.
Marketing must also clearly state the details affecting a consumer's selection, such as if programs are shown only at certain times or if closed captioning is not provided. Additional information that is crucial from the customer's point of view is whether the contract is of fixed duration, and how long it will be in effect.
"Free" giveaways are confusing
Many companies offer a free trial period as an additional benefit for someone who orders a channel package. This type of trial period cannot be advertised as free, however, if the customer must first commit to a paid subscription in order to get the benefit.
It is not enough for a company to include all the required information in an ad if the information is presented in a misleading way. For example, giveaways or benefits thrown into a bargain cannot be emphasized so prominently in an ad that they draw attention away from the channel package itself and the limitations of the offer. The terms of the offer also cannot be hidden in small print at the bottom of an ad or otherwise be stated unclearly.
The same rules apply to channel package marketing as to the marketing of other services. The consumer must be informed of who the other contracting party is, what the service comprises, and what the terms associated with the service are.