A Parisian court has fined Carrefour 800,000 euro, after ruling that competitor Intermarché's complaint because of "derogatory and deceptive comparing advertising" had its merits, even though Carrefour mainly targeted E.Leclerc with the ads.
TV price war
Early 2013, Carrefour France used TV ads to compare prices with its competitors, as a reaction to the QuiEstLeMoinsCher.com website (launched by E.Leclerc). Both companies are constantly fighting to be the French market leader and E.Leclerc's website showed that Carrefour was consistently more expensive than E.Leclerc.
Carrefour's counter, spearheaded by its (at the time its newly-installed) CEO Georges Plassat, was designed to put the record straight... which did not please another competitor, Intermarché. According to Carrefour's price comparison, Intermarché was 9.8 to 12.4 % more expensive. The latter demanded to know how the numbers were calculated, and in the end, it dragged Carrefour to court because of "derogatory and deceptive advertising".
"Loose interpretation of comparative ad legislation"
The Parisian Commercial Court has now fined Carrefour 800,000 euro, as the distributor failed to uphold the consumer legislation. More specifically, the court felt Carrefour "interpreted the comparative ad legislation too loosely".
Other judges had deemed earlier price comparisons, even when they were limited to a small number of products and stores, to be acceptable, but this judge apparently felt Carrefour crossed a line here. The company still has the option to appeal the decision.