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Is Zynga breaching the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations?

By on July 25, 2011
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Last week, I wrote a post about a new big monetisation banner that popped up when I returned to Zynga’a Cityville. I wondered if it was a last-ditch attempt to get me to spend money (although I have since been told that a number of regular players have also received the banner.)

One (anonymous) commenter raised this question:

A breach of items 7 and 31 of Schedule 1 of the The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008?

I check out the Regulations. Schedule 1 sets out "Commercial practices which are in all circumstances considered unfair". I’m not a lawyer, but that sounds as if there are no grounds for discretion in Schedule 1.

Here are the specific clauses that are in all circumstances considered unfair and which, at first glance, might apply to this promotion by Zynga:

7. Falsely stating that a product will only be available for a very limited time, or that it will only be available on particular terms for a very limited time, in order to elicit an immediate decision and deprive consumers of sufficient opportunity or time to make an informed choice.

AND

31. Creating the false impression that the consumer has already won, will win, or will on doing a particular act win, a prize or other equivalent benefit, when in fact either:

  • a) there is no prize or other equivalent benefit, or
  • b) taking any action in relation to claiming the prize or other equivalent benefit is subject to the consumer paying money or incurring a cost.

Take another look at the image below and decide whether you think that this offer breaches these rules.

image

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • Yes.

  • they do, but I wonder if “Less than 24 hours” is worse than, say, a week long sale, i.e. will regulators say that 24 hours is too short a time to make an informed decision, whereas a week is fine.

  • Mark

    I think it breaches both rules; however, point seven is a common as dirt tactic, and I imagine most businesses get away with it.