The defendant is a company that offers photo shoots in its photo studio, the result of which is registered in electronic form.
The defendant approached consumers by e-mail stating that the consumer has been selected. In addition, consumers could do an online audition on the defendant's website for a photo shoot.
If the consumer was approached by e-mail, the consumer was informed that he was selected based on his looks and personality and that he could win a photo shoot worth EURO 450 ("standard price"). If interested, the consumer could fill in on the website of the defendant the code that was attached to the email by which he was contacted, this in order to have a chance to win the competition. Consequently, the consumer would receive a telephone call of an employee of the defendant in which he was informed that he was selected (out of a number of submissions) and that he could obtain a price discount of EUR 325 on the EUR 450 photo shoot.
However, in reality, it was established that the defendant never applied a "standard price" of 450 EUR. In addition, it was admitted by an employee of the defendant that any person who received the email with the selection code, was contacted, hence, there were no real selection rounds to award certain consumers.
The second way in which consumers could participate in the offer of the trader, was by clicking on an "online audition" button displayed on the trader's website. By clicking on this button, the consumer was informed that he could participate in an online audition to be selected for one of the 3800 sponsored photo shoots. The consumer was urged to react instantly as the competition allegedly was only available for a very limited time. In reality, the action was repeatedly lengthened. Consumers subscribing to participate were later contacted by the defendant in order to make an appointment. The consumer was told that he was selected out of 62000 submissions. Here too, the consumer was informed that he would receive a discount of 325 EURO.
Whenever the consumer made an appointment, he was reminded by email of this appointment. In the email, it was stated that the appointment, made by telephone (with a defendant's employee), was recorded as a proof of the agreement. However, in several cases, there were no such recordings. Further, the email was signed by a certain person, indicated as "head legal department" of the defendant, whereas that person did not work with the defendant nor was there a legal department.
Further, a consumer that did not appear at the photo shoot, received an invoice of 465 EUR ("standard price" and administrative fee) in which the defendant proposed to amicably settle the debt for 140 EUR. When not paid on the due date, the defendant send another invoice, amounting to 465 EUR and stating that in lack of payment, legal proceedings would be initiated. Again, the invoices were signed by a fictitious person, head of a fictitious legal department.
Finally, it was established that the defendant promoted its activities as being a scout for and promoting young models (i.e. like a kind of modeling agency), as the defendant used slogans as "You are selected!", "No more need for modeling agencies!", "Direct online modeling!", "You are scouted!", etc. Both when the consumer was directly contacted by the defendant or when he participated in the online audition, the consumer was asked whether he was interested "in a modeling career". In addition, the defendant repeatedly referred to the fact that the consumer was "selected". Next, when the photo shoot took place, the consumer was sent the photographs and an additional "sponsoring offer" was made in order to help the consumer to launch his modeling career. The accompanying letter was again signed by a fictitious person working in the fictitious "New Talents Selection" and "Sponsoring Acceptance" department of the defendant.