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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Dishonest advertising of a housing programme - a decision of UOKiK

< previous | next > 28.12.2018

Dishonest advertising of a housing programme - a decision of UOKiK
  • You can get a flat having only PLN 5,000 – that is how the Polish Social Housing Programme was tempting potential buyers in its leaflets and on its website.
  • In fact, the programme participants were to be given the opportunity to buy property on preferential terms only after many years.
  • The company operated in a prohibited consortium system.

The Polish Social Housing Programme Company [Polski Społeczny Program Mieszkaniowy – PSPM] (former Deveres) from Rzeszów was selling participation packages in the ‘Your Home’ programme. The purchaser could choose one of four options. The information in the leaflets and on the website clearly suggested that after payment of PLN 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 or 30,000, and after 19, 15, 11 or 9 years, the participant would receive a flat with an area of 42-56 sq. m. and a value amounting to PLN 200,000-240,000. How is this possible? We buy apartments at wholesale prices and sell them at market prices. The difference results in a profit. We share the profit with programme participants. At the end of the contract you get a flat worth PLN 200,000 – the company was explaining in its advertisements.

This information was contrary to the General Terms of Participation (GTP) that were part of the contract. According to GTP, depending on the chosen package, the client was to be given the possibility of purchasing the property on preferential terms after 9-19 years. The participant initially paid from PLN 5,000 to 30,000. This amount was converted into points, 1 point for each zloty. Then, PSPM added more points – each year 20 per cent of collected so far. After reaching 150,000 points (worth PLN 150,000), the client was to be given the opportunity of purchasing an apartment, after paying to the company additional several tens of thousands zlotys.

- The Polish Social Housing Programme misled consumers. It was not possible for them to purchase apartments on the terms specified in the advertisements, i.e. after payment of only PLN 5,000 and a period of 19 years. There was also false information about sharing profits from the programme among its participants – said Marek Niechciał, President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.

UOKiK's second charge was that the company operated in the form of a consortium system. It collected consumers’ payments and managed their money as part of a group that was set up to finance apartments for its members. Such activity is an unfair market practice and is prohibited.

The Office imposed on the company punishment in the amount of PLN 12,000 and ordered it to stop dishonest practices. In addition, PSPM must send registered letters with information on UOKiK's decision to all programme participants.

In case the decision becomes legally valid, it can be used as a prejudication when individual claims are made by consumers. This means that they will be able to refer to it in court – added the President of UOKiK, Marek Niechciał.

The decision is not final.

UOKiK informed the Polish Financial Supervision Authority about the company’s activities.

Consumer assistance:

Phone +48 801 440 220 or +48 22 290 89 16 – consumer helpline
E-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Branches of the Consumer Federation
Consumer Ombudsmen – in your town or district

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 314
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files