The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) on Tuesday imposed a penalty of Rs 150 million on Pakistan State Oil (PSO) for running deceptive marketing campaign for its products, “Premier XL” petrol and “Green Plus” diesel in violation of Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010.
The CCP bench that passed the order comprised Chairperson Vadiyya Khalil and Members Dr Shahzad Ansar and Ikram ul Haque Qureshi.
Earlier, the CCP conducted an inquiry after receiving a complaint wherein it was alleged that since 2003/2004 the PSO has been deceptively claiming that the use of its products “Premier XL” and “Green Plus” resulted in more mileage and improved performance of vehicle’s engine due to use of various additives and were environment-friendly.
The inquiry further revealed that in 2012/2013, the PSO discontinued the use of such additives, however, the names of products and the marketing campaign including the associated branding/insignias launched alongside the products in 2003/2004 remained in place to-date.
The order stated that during the hearings, PSO could neither provide any scientific basis for making the claims in the first place nor did it stop making the claims when it stopped mixing the additives in 2012/2013. These claims led consumers to believe that the fuel they were purchasing was superior to others and, therefore, harmed competition in the market.
In addition to imposing the penalty, the CCP has also directed PSO to immediately cease the use of ‘Green’ and ‘Premium’ in all its branding and marketing materials, and to make appropriate changes within thirty (30) days to remove the impression that its fuel products are premium and environmentally-friendly.
The CCP has further directed PSO to inform the general public regarding the discontinuation of the use of additives in the products through appropriate clarifications in all English and Urdu dailies for a period of one (1) week and file a compliance report with the registrar of the commission within a period of forty-five (45) days from the date of issuance of this order.