With the Act of 5th August 2015, a new institution of the so called mystery shopper was introduced into the Act on Competition and Consumer Protection [ACCP].
To date the roles of mystery shoppers have been played by employees of specialized companies who under instructions of entrepreneurs or market research institutions have been controlling the quality of services provided in retail and service outlets.
Pursuant to article 105ia of the ACCP which will become effective as of 16th April 2016, in order to obtain information that can be taken as evidence concerning practices jeopardizing collective interests of consumers, officials of the OCCP shall have the right to take action aimed at purchasing goods.
The action will be allowed after approval of the court of competition and consumer protection has been obtained, granted at the request of the President of the OCCP by way of a ruling to be given within 48 hours of the submission thereof.
The goods will be purchased anonymously, i.e. without the identity card of an inspector being shown, and the purchase can be recorded by means of a candid camera or a Dictaphone. However, an entrepreneur must be informed of the method of inspection used immediately after it ended.
The main task of a mystery shopper is to check if in relationship with a consumer an entrepreneur observes the law and does not commit the acts which could be classified as practices jeopardizing collective interests of consumers.
It is worth noting that by way of the amendment a provision was introduced into the Act on Competition and Consumer Protection whereby the practice of suggesting to consumers to purchase financial services which do not meet their needs identified by taking account of information available to an entrepreneur concerning characteristics of such consumers or suggesting to purchase such services in the manner inappropriate to their character is classified as a practice jeopardizing collective interests of consumers.
Such services can include deposits accompanied by insurance policies, loans in foreign exchange or complicated financial instruments offered under the guise of credit agreements (cf loans indexed to the Swiss franc exchange rate).