Sports equipment store Ochsner was fined 4,000 francs for misleading many items sold in stores. Consumer advocates denounce a “ridiculous” fine.
The whole business began in December 2015, with the purchase of a headlamp in one of Ochsner’s shops, at the Signy shopping center in Nyon (VD).
The man who made this acquisition thought he had made a good deal: the label had a sale price of 34.90 francs instead of 59.90. Except that by removing the sticker, the buyer discovers the pre-sale price: 34.90 francs.
He then denounces this fictitious discount to the State Secretariat for the Economy (SECO), which invites the Cantonal Commercial Police to verify that the sign complied with the Ordinance on the indication of prices.
After a “thorough investigation” in several branches of the canton, the police identify “many non-compliant labels […] which create the illusion of a sale at a bargain price, “Albert von Braun, head of the cantonal trade police, told RTS.
Contacted, Dosenbach-Ochsner, a subsidiary of the German group Heinrich Deichmann, specifies that these shortcomings remain “isolated cases”.
However, the Vaudoise Trade Police reports “similar findings” made by their counterparts in the cantons of Friborg and Valais.
We found that this client’s case was not isolated
“We noted that this customer’s case was not isolated, but that labeling non-conformities were previously present on many items, in all the Vaud, Valais and Friborg branches visited”, contradicts Albert von Braun.
However, only the Vaud public prosecutor will take up the case and condemn the brand, on August 27, 2018, to a fine of 4000 francs.
Ochsner Sport, who accepted his sentence, claims to have “fully cooperated with the authorities concerned and has taken all necessary measures to ensure compliance with the Ordinance on the indication of prices”, from October 2016 .
A “ridiculous” fine
“We are happy that Ochsner is condemned, that the deception is proven,” said Robin Eymann, economic policy manager at the Fédération romande des consommateurs (FRC). This is the latterto the Public Prosecutor’s Office, September 12, 2016.
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And the sanction leaves this whistleblower in ice: “A fine of 4000 francs for a company with a turnover of a billion is ridiculous. It’s not even a slap on the wrist, it’s just an encouragement to continue and a signal for other companies to do the same, ”laments Robin Eymann.
A fine of 4000 francs for a company with a turnover of a billion is ridiculous. It’s not even a slap on the wrist
The law provides for a fine of up to 20,000 francs. But the penal ordinance specifies that the sanction targets the natural person having committed the infringement. However, “the numerous searches carried out have not made it possible to discover the person or persons responsible for this practice within the company”, indicates the Public Ministry of Vaud.
For the FRC, this, is “totally outdated”. A fine against the company rather than a natural person would be more relevant, believes the economic politician, who also advocates a fine proportional to turnover. Consumer confidence in stocks is at stake, he said. “It’s all the companies that play the game that suffer,” he concludes.
Feriel Mestiri and Arditë Shabani