Consumer Reviews - march, 2010

Summary of the articles:


Péter Ákos Bod

Effect of consumption, economic boom and financial crisis on the scale of values

Consumer consumption, in particular if its resource is credit received strong ethical and political critiques at the beginning of the international financial crisis. However recession after the subprime-crisis, following the Keynes-approach, made the authorities take action to intensify economy and stimulate consumption. Thus no change in scale of values could occur, which would have strengthened the loss of importance of consumerism, the sensitivity towards environment and the more careful consumer behaviour (borrowing, contracting debt). The Hungarian data represent extremely strong materialistic mentality; approaching the European trend is restrained by the economic recession, which is deeper than the European average, as well as by a series of political, social-structural factors.

Péter Miskolczi Bodnár

Change of the legal tools preventing and sanctioning the lack of advertised products

The paper studied the reasons of the lack of advertised products, and then pointed out the possibilities of intervention on behalf of competition law and consumer protection. It drew attention to the change of legislation came into force on 1st September 2008, namely instead of applying the rule of misleading of consumers in line with the competition act, the cases related to lack of stocks shall be judged on the base of unfair commercial practices act. Bait advertising is one of the facts on the black list of the Annex to the act of unfair commercial practices. The author summarized the differences of the old and new pieces of legislation. The article revealed the characteristics of bait advertising as well as pointed out the circumstances led to it, and where it was necessary, separated the these characteristics from the former practice of the competition law. The author classified the differences by flexibility, i.e. how flexibly the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) followed the changes of legislation in its initial practice. According to the author the competition authority has successfully retained and also uses that part of its old, competition-oriented practice during the enforcement of unfair commercial practices act, which qualifies the behaviour of the trader on the grounds of objective circumstances in connection with preparation for action. The author also criticizes the definition of bait advertising based on the EU directive on account of its too subjective nature, since it is tailored to the business concerned by the case, instead of considering the business that shows behaviour of due professional care as a norm. In relation to the change of legislation the author expresses his concern when the HCA enforces traditional competition law aspects in certain areas where it cannot be justified by the new legislative text.

Dr. Nándor Komáromi –dr. József Lehota

Measurements on consumer satisfaction

One of the negative consequences of mass production is that those who produce goods or services are removed from those whose use or consume them. Many companies had to face the fact that the absence of the feedback of customers falling out of sight does not mean that customers are satified with a given product. The roots of measuring consumer satisfaction go back partly to marketing theory, and on the other hand to quality management. The article addresses the term of consumer satisfaction, the term of quality related to services and also presents the process and methods of measuring of consumer satisfaction.

Dr. Pál Bobál

Thinking about the middle-term strategy of the Hungarian Authority for Consumer Protection

The author summarizes the experience of the background consultations between professionals at regional level continued nearly for one year, moreover his ideas and proposals in relation to the further reform of the HACP. Its reason is the presumption that the transformation of the institute and management system executed recently was not fully matured, the priority of the political-governmental will, concerning the authority work was perceptible, and the implementation was not without difficulties in the past three years. Therefore the re-thinking of the methodology of central governance, the correction of the internal organisation at regional level, and the systematic determination of strategic issues (harmonized enforcement of ECP, reinforced protection of health and economic interests of consumers, operation of a more effective risk assessment procedure from social aspects, proactive inspections, reasonable formulation of functional powers, more purposive and reasonable communication system between the organisational units and monitoring activity of the HACP) emerge. It should be noted that the full adaptation of the middle-term consumer policy of the EU will definitely contribute to the effectiveness of the authority consumer protection work, determining the final position of the institution system and the duties of consumer protection.

Tamásné Köncse

Utilizable experiences of the cooperation of market, competition and consumer protection

Relation between consumer protection and competition is on the one hand extremely, on the other hand rather controversial. The author emphasizes why consumer protection is important from the aspect of competitiveness of enterprises, and the need that the enterprises should also recognize it. She analyzes the effect made on competition and tries to orientate enterprises how they can develop their own consumer protection approach. She does not think that the present enforcement system based primarily on sanctions and punishment is efficient, which is detrimental to the competitiveness of enterprises. In light with the related laws and efforts on behalf of the European Union she trusts to the recognition of competitiveness effects of consumer protection, which will be favorable to the Hungarian enterprises and to the exploitation of the benefits of the internal market

Dr. István Erdős

European Commission is planning a uniform regulation of rights of passengers travelling by coach and ship

It is not doubtful that protection of passengers’ rights is an issue at European level, therefore the resolution is required at community level. Market liberalization and taking into account the rights of consumers – in particular the handicapped people – are two complementary and mutually formulating areas of the Internal Market. The aim of introducing the two proposals is to ensure that passengers benefit equal rights and protection throughout the European Union, independently from the means of transport. Due to the international nature of transport the Member States are not able to manage all issues on their own or in groups related to transport services of passengers, thus the action of the European Union is needed. It is not questionable either that both regulations hand over specific responsibilities to businesses, economic players in the sectors concerned. In the current situation of world economy the regulation environment governed with regulations shifts special burden onto businesses, such responsibility of assistance, information requirements, or rules of damage claims. However one must keep in mind that this new regulation is not intended for 4-5-year but hopefully for more-decade use. So, it has a significant importance that the current economic difficulties not endanger the rights and protection of future passengers. The discussion of both proposals is still going on, and special attention must be paid to the exact observance of the proportion between the economic and consumer protection interests.

Gyula Kasza

Consumer studies in the service of specific policy issues

Social sustainability has a decisive role in the specific policy issues in democratic societies, presumes the fulfilment of the criteria of social justice and effectiveness. These criteria can only be met with the involvement of society by using the various forms of preparation of decision-making. The conscious application of social decision-making in specific policy issues can be traced back to the 1970’s. The first signs of paradigm shift have been observed in Western Europe since the end of the 1980’s, however the demand of socially sustainable specific policy definitely intensified during the past one and a half decades. Trustworthiness and social support have specially become important terms in the more and more sceptic and disappointed Western societies. The study analyses the types of the specific policy decisions, the nature of arising problems and complexity, as well as presents the criteria of social participation and the practical forms.

Dr. Imre Joó

New possibilities and challenges of direct liability of manufacturer in the Hungarian legislation

Product liability opens up a new perspective of the direct manufacturer’s liability in the Hungarian legislation. Nevertheless, several questions can arise in relation to the direct manufacturer’s liability, the answers to which – in lack of actual precedents of jurisprudence and legal history – will be rather the tasks of enforcers. Exploration of possibilities and challenges, however, is not an easy job at all. Since questions arising in connection with product warranty as being the direct liability of manufacturer through the contradiction of lacking the self-regulation mechanisms of market and aware consumer attitude, as well as through the transformation of liability chain and possible defects influencing market lead to the possible trends of further development in law.

Dr. István Csongor Nagy

Enforcement of civil law claims based on the decisions of Hungarian Competition Authority

Although significant progress have been made to promote civil law enforcement in competition-related matters, such as in case of gross cartels, it was presumed that the cartel increased prices by 10 %, thus these developments do not primarily help consumers, but rather businesses. From consumers’ aspect creating the possibilities of enforcement of group litigation claims could make qualitative progress, however these conditions are not ensured in the current effective Hungarian legislation. Consequently, the intervention and enforcement activity of HCA, in particular commitment procedure has outstanding importance in order to protect consumers’ rights, and it seems as if the authority has clearly committed itself to supporting private law claims.