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On 1 February 2022, the Ministry of Trade (“Ministry“) amended the Regulation on Commercial Advertisements and Unfair Commercial Practices (“Regulation“). In addition to the important amendments in the content of commercial advertisements, new obligations are imposed on sellers, service providers, intermediary service providers and complaint platforms.
The amendments to the Regulation will enter into force on 1 March 2022. The amendments are available online here (in Turkish).
The main amendments introduced to the Regulation are as follows:
- The prohibition on advertisements containing expressions and images of patients before and after treatment is abrogated.
- The prices determined based on consumer habits are considered personalized prices, and the advertisements with personalized prices are required to also include the current price of the relevant good or service.
- Sales advertisements must include the sales price prior to the discount along with the period of discount. The sales price prior to the discount will be determined on the basis of the lowest price of the relevant good or service within 30 days before the date of the discount. The price of perishable goods, such as fruits and vegetables, prior to the discount will continue to be determined on the basis of the previous price. The burden of proof regarding these requirements is on the advertiser.
- Advertisements where a good or service is on sale with a tied credit must contain the following information:
- Term of the loan
- Interest rate
- Monthly and annual percentage value of the total cost to the consumer
- Refund terms
- Biocidal products are included among the products that are subject to special legislation and must comply with regulations regarding advertising and promotion in the relevant legislation.
- Consumers must be informed about the criteria taken into account in the ranking of goods and services offered for sale on the internet, and the phrase ‘advertisement’ must be included in the rankings based on advertisement or sponsorship relations.
- Only persons who purchase the relevant goods or services can review the goods or services sold online. The rules regarding the publication of the reviews are also required to be specified. Reviews will be published based on a ranking determined by an objective criterion and will remain published for at least one year. The relevant consumer will be informed immediately if the review cannot be published. In this context, it is prohibited to publish reviews with health claims that violate the laws. In cases where the consumer’s complaint or request is resolved, the situation will be published immediately where the first review was published. Agreements with real or legal persons regarding the use of expressions to increase the sale of goods or services are prohibited.
- The relevant sellers and service providers must be informed for the right to respond at least 72 hours before the reviews on the complaint platforms are published. The reviews must not be published before such period, and reviews that do not reflect the truth will not be published.
- The price increases of sellers or service providers who are not affected by price changes, such as input cost and exchange rate fluctuations, are excluded from the examples of unfair commercial practice.
- The following are included in the examples of unfair commercial practice: (i) offering event tickets at a higher price by purchasing such tickets outside of the specified limits by means of software that automates the purchasing process; and (ii) using methods in e-commerce, such as guiding interface designs, options or expressions, that negatively affect the will of the consumer or that aim to cause changes in the decision that the consumer would make under normal circumstances in favor of the seller.
As per the amendments, the guidelines that will be prepared by the Advertisement Board to protect consumers against commercial advertising and unfair commercial practices will be implemented together with the Regulation upon publication on the Ministry’s website.
In light of the recent developments in the e-commerce sector, the Ministry expanded the scope of the regulations, aiming to ensure protection of consumers against unfair commercial practices and advertisements. As per the amendments, along with the seller and service provider oriented regulations, intermediary service providers and complaint platforms are also included within the scope of the Regulation and are subject to important liabilities. Stakeholders and sellers, service providers, intermediary service providers and complaint platforms in particular should carefully follow the amendments and take necessary steps by 1 March 2022 to ensure full compliance with the relevant legislation regarding commercial advertisement and e-commerce.