Case reference number:CRE-E/24531
Investigation into: WVD Direktverkauf GmbH, Volkertstraße 6-8, 1020
Vienna and R.T.C. Radio Television Communications Handels GmbH,
Gölsdorfgasse 2/13, 1010 Vienna
Complainant: OFT own-initiative investigation
UK consumers were receiving unsolicited prize draw mailings under the
names 'Friedrich Mueller'. The OFT were concerned that the mailings
were potentially misleading in that they appeared to notify consumers of
a major prize win and linked claiming the 'prize' to the making of a
payment when in fact no purchase was necessary. In fact the small print
appeared to reveal that recipients were merely being invited to
participate in a prize draw with the majority of recipients likely to
receive a prize which was not of the value stated and in some cases,
recipients were unlikely to receive anything at all.
Directive 2005/29/EC on Unfair Commercial Practices and the Consumer
Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
Summary of work
In July 2009 the OFT made a referral against WVD Direktverkauf GmbH
(WVD) and R.T.C. Radio Television Communication Handels GmbH (RTC), the
Austrian companies responsible for Friedrich Mueller mailings, to our
Austrian counterparts, the Federal Competition Authority (FCA) under the
EU Consumer Protection Co-operation Regulation (CPC Regulation).
The OFT considered Friedrich Mueller mailings to be misleading and in
breach of the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC. In
particular, we considered Friedrich Mueller mailings to be misleading as
they appeared to notify UK consumers of a major prize win and linked
claiming the prize, or receiving it more quickly, to the making of a
payment when in fact no purchase was necessary.
The CPC Regulation, which came into force in January 2007, has
established a network of public enforcement agencies in every EU member
state to facilitate effective cross-border co-operation on infringements
of consumer law. The aim of the CPC Regulation is to provide a formal
mechanism which allows designated enforcement bodies to refer cases to
their European counterparts for appropriate action. Under the CPC
Regulation all member states have a duty to consider taking action to
protect the collective interests of consumers when they are requested to
An application for a cease and desist order was filed by the FCA in
January 2010 along with an application for interim measures at the
Vienna Commercial Court (Handelsgericht Wien).
A preliminary injunction was granted by the Commercial Court on 2 June
RTC and Alexander Ferrari (Managing Director) are not allowed to
operate misleading lotteries of the kind of 'Award Confirmation',
'Final Prize Participation Information', '5-Prize-Lottery' or
'Express Prize Distribution' using the brand name 'Friedrich
Mueller' or 'Legal Department Friedrich Mueller' to UK consumers,
which give the false impression that the recipient has won or will win
a specific prize or will gain - upon doing a particular act* - some
prize or other benefit, when in fact recipients have been entered into
a prize draw or the prize is shared among all respondents, or the
prize is not of the value it is stated to be in the mailing or
consumers get the misleading impression that to receive the prizes
they have to make a payment.
*for example, by responding to the mailings and sending off a
processing fee or phoning a premium rate number
WVD and Gerhard Bruckberger (Managing Director) are not allowed to
promote the organisation of lotteries in one of the four specific
types described above by granting rights to use the brand names
'Friedrich Mueller' or 'Legal Department Friedrich Mueller'.
The companies and individuals appealed the decision but on 24 September
2010 the High Court in Vienna (Oberlandesgericht Wien) confirmed the
preliminary injunction. Although the preliminary injunction is legally
binding, it is only an interim measure and full proceedings still have
to be decided. A court date for full proceedings has not yet been set.
Both WVD and RTC filed for bankruptcy in April 2011. Full proceedings
for a cease and desist order have been stayed as a result. However, the
preliminary injunction remains in force.