CCP’S ENQUIRY FINDS ONLINE EDUCATION PROVIDER PRIMA FACIE ENGAGED IN DECEPTIVE MARKETING PRACTICES

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Islamabad:(Rana Tariq)
An enquiry conducted by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has found M/s. British Lyceum (Pvt.) Ltd acting prima facie in violation of Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010. British Lyceum, having its head office in Lahore, is an online educational institute, which is an associated company of American Lyceum (Pvt.) Limited and Royal Lyceum (Pvt.) Limited, having dozens of branches across Pakistan.

CCP took notice of certain claims that British Lyceum was advertising in newspapers and posting on their website, suspecting the claims to be in violation of Section 10. The three major claims that called for CCP’s attention included: “Teachers can earn Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 250,000 per month; “Education program worthy of Rs. 3.75 billion is endorsed by Cambridge Global; and that “there are eminent educationists and technologists on our Board of Directors.”
Taking notice on its own under Section 37(1), CCP conducted an enquiry to see whether these claims violated Section 10. Regarding the first claim, the enquiry stated that British Lyceum in its newspaper advertisement announced a special package under which teachers could earn Rs. 80,000/- to 250,000/- per month, with a disclaimer published on the bottom left corner of the advertisement stating: “terms and condition apply, for details, visit website.”
The enquiry found that the disclaimer was not quite clear and noticeable to readers. The terms and conditions were not available on the website to provide full disclosure of ‘material information that may be required to the potential consumer for taking a well-informed decision. Whereas the respondent also failed to substantiate the claim through evidence that the teachers can earn Rs.80000/- to 250000/- per month.

Regarding the second claim, the enquiry found that Cambridge Global was a dormant company in the UK, thus the sole purpose of claiming “collaboration with Cambridge Global” by British Lyceum (Pvt.) Ltd appeared to be for adding credibility to the programme based on falsehood. The enquiry termed the claim not only to be false but misleading as well. Moreover, the project size of Rs. 3.75 billion was also calculated in a misleading manner and it was not supported by evidence.
The enquiry also found the third claim of having eminent educationists and technologists on their Board of Directors to be false and misleading as it was not substantiated by the facts.

The enquiry concluded that British Lyceum was, prima facie, violating Section 10 of the Act through the distribution of false and misleading information to the general public, especially to potential teachers. It was noted that British Lyceum used marketing tactics to make profits through deceptive, false and misleading claims, particularly during the pandemic when schools were frequently closed, and teaching staff was being laid off.
Based on its findings, the enquiry recommended issuing a show cause notice to British Lyceum (Pvt.) Ltd for prima facie violating Section 10.