In many places in Norway, specially designed buses have become an almost obligatory part of the Russian celebration.
In Fredrikstad, a group of 18 boys is well underway with the planning of the Russian celebration next year.
Among them are Peter Gulbrandsen (18), Dennis Eliassen (18) and Leo Stubbene (17).
The plan was for them to rent the dream bus from one of Norway’s largest suppliers of Russian equipment, Bussfix.
This developed into a bitter conflict that has involved legal assistance on both sides.
Bussfix offers various bus packages on its website, where they call themselves “a very serious player in the industry” and promise that “all work is carried out in accordance with rules and regulations”.
The package that the Russian gang in Fredrikstad was offered has a suggested retail price of 714,000 for, among other things, renting a bus for a month and a half, according to the agreement.
The package should also consist of exterior decoration and specially built furnishings, etc.
The agreement, where the purchase price is 480,000 kroner, contains a discount of as much as 234,000, as well as a sponsorship agreement which according to Bussfix is worth 434,000.
Some points in the agreement:
- The contract is called a “sponsorship agreement”, but actually applies to the rental of a shuttle bus.
- The contract contains a requirement for confidentiality, and mentions serious financial consequences if the document is shown to a third party.
- Most of the cost must be paid the year before the group is russ.
– They stressed us a lot and made us sign quickly. We did not fully get hold of the contract until after we had agreed, says Leo Stubbene to TV 2 help you.
Bussfix rejects this, see the answer further down in the case.
They belong to the group which in the contract is called «Fredrikstad boys 2023».
The boys believe that since they hesitated, a campaign was made to lure them.
The contract was signed on 27 January this year. The boys say that everyone in the Russian gang at this time was only 17 years old. Thus, they needed an 18-year-old to sign.
– It was the case that no one wanted to sign, because we were very unsure of that agreement. Then they said it does not matter which 18-year-old you get, just get an 18-year-old, says Peter.
Wanted out of the contract
The guys believe that Bussfix did not give them enough time to get acquainted with the contract.
– The day after we had signed, we started looking at the contract a little extra. We knew about a law called the Right of Withdrawal Act, says Dennis, and adds that the gang stood together behind the signature.
In an exchange of messages between the Russian gang and Bussfix on February 7, the boys ask what it will cost to leave the agreement.
“50 percent of the total amount on agreement,” Bussfix answers.
The total sum was 480,000 kroner. In other words, Bussfix indicated a breach fee of as much as 240,000 kroner. After negotiations, the company came up with a formal claim of 72,000 to release the guys from the contract.
Bussfix believes that the right of withdrawal does not apply here because Russian celebration, and especially rolling, is a leisure activity. It is also mentioned in the contract that parts of it are exempt from the Right of Withdrawal Act.
When TV 2 helps you meet the guys at the end of March, Bussfix has after a lot of back and forth lowered its demand to 40,000. The parents of the Russian guys have got involved, and Bussfix offers 14,000 to solve the case.
There are hard fronts and both parties have submitted assessment from lawyer.
Bussfix’s lawyer writes that the right of withdrawal does not apply, while the lawyer on the boys’ side maintains that it actually applies.
– We believe we do not owe Bussfix anything, says Dennis Eliassen.
The Consumer Council: – Relatively unusual
Lawyer Thomas Iversen in the Consumer Council has read the contract between Bussfix and the Russian gang in Fredrikstad.
He says he had to read it several times to understand the content.
The contract requires confidentiality.
– A so-called confidentiality clause is relatively unusual in consumer relations, and this means that they are not allowed to show the offer, possibly also a signed agreement, to someone outside the circle who has signed.
– It is a challenge in two ways: Firstly, there is a risk if they then show the agreement to parents, etc., something they obviously must be able to do to get help from experienced people in the immediate circle.
– Secondly, it is a problem if there is a dispute afterwards. Who can you then show it to, says Iversen.
It is stated about «confidentiality» in the contract that the offer «is not under any circumstances forwarded or referred to a third party».
In the event of a breach of this point, Bussfix threatens in the contract that the entire sponsorship / discount may disappear.
- According to its website, Bussfix is a “total supplier of everything for Russian buses.”
- Bussfix is not registered as a company in the Brønnøysund register, but is a company owned by Innovatis AS, where Nicolai Brænd Østbye is the general manager / admin. dir.
- Innovatis has 12 employees and in 2020 had operating revenues of 6.9 million, and a profit before tax of 410,000, according to proff.no.
Are Bussfix prices real?
The contract states that the ordinary price is 714,000. At the same time, the Russian boys more or less immediately received a discount of 234,000, so the purchase price was 480,000 kroner.
Iversen says that when you use discounts and other things in marketing, you should be able to document that you have sold at least something at that pre-price, or at the regular price.
– Here it is unclear what is the reason why they get the discount, and one can at least speculate whether the discount is only given to give the illusion that you get something cheaper.
The Russian boys in Fredrikstad regretted the agreement before 14 days had passed after signing.
Bussfix then demanded a breach fee for terminating the agreement and hired a lawyer who briefly claimed that the right of withdrawal does not apply because it is about a leisure activity within a certain period of time:
“The Russian celebration, and especially the part of the celebration that involves” rolling “with the Russian bus, is undeniably a leisure activity, so this alternative is clearly applicable,” wrote the lawyer who assisted Bussfix.
Thomas Iversen in the Consumer Council, on the other hand, says that an agreement like this is in principle covered by the Right of Withdrawal Act, but that the law has quite a few exceptions, which will also apply to agreements such as renting buses and accessories.
– But then it is important to remember that it is the seller, or trader, who must inform about the exceptions before entering into the agreement. At the bottom of the agreement here, there is only a general reference to the fact that there may be exceptions.
Marketing to children
The Russian gang says that since everyone was 17 years old when the contract was to be entered into, they brought with them a friend of 18. We have chosen to anonymise him, and he does not want to comment on the matter.
– Marketing to children you should be very careful with, and the marketing should be written according to the level of maturity and situation, when there are young consumers involved, says Iversen.
The Consumer Council’s tips for the Russians
- Set a budget for how much you plan to spend.
- When you form a Russian group, it is important to consider what you should spend money on and what you should prioritize.
- Should you enter into large agreements, read carefully, and get help from parents or guardians to critically evaluate the contract before you sign.
- Agree within the group before signing a contract.
- If problems occur, contact the supplier as soon as possible.
Bus fix suddenly turns
TV 2 helps you has made many attempts to get an interview with Bussfix, but spokesperson Nicolai Brænd Østbye has made it clear that they will not give an interview.
On March 23, Østbye wrote in an email to TV 2 helps you that Bussfix wants the case decided in the judiciary.
But suddenly the case takes a different direction. Bussfix finds out that they want to drop their entire claim.
“Due to the circumstances surrounding the customer and the case, we have reached an agreement where we drop the entire claim. This means that we terminate the contract free of charge, »Østbye writes in an email on 5 April.
Regarding the requirement of confidentiality, Østbye answers:
“Our agreements, competitive advantages and terms are copied by new players on a monthly basis, and we try to prevent this. We have made it clear to the group that we recommend reviewing the contract with parents. We have also offered to talk to them, which was rejected. “
Bussfix believes the discount was real, and writes this about the right of withdrawal:
“The customer is informed in the contract, orally by telephone, via text message and via email that the agreement is exempt from the right of withdrawal.”
Bus fix: – The group was well informed
Østbye writes further about the time leading up to signing the contract:
“It took well over 20 days from the time we had a meeting with the group until the agreement was signed. The group was well informed both in the meeting, in group chat, and in the offer what was included. “
“We have had both meetings and conversations with the group for several weeks, where they themselves have informed us that they have adults who want to enter into an agreement. They have signed the agreement twice a week. Both times, the agreement was reviewed via telephone, text message and email. We terminated the first signing immediately, as the person signing was not comfortable with the responsibility. “
Østbye writes that the “customer” who signed “was clear that he had understood the responsibility of the review we had on the phone.”
“Already updated our agreements”
– The Russian guys say they stand together behind him who signed. What did you do for the boys to consult with their father and mother before signing such a complicated contract?
“The Russian group itself claimed to have signed internal contracts at the meeting. We only deal with adults, and would never sign a contract with a minor, “writes Østbye.
– Will Bussfix make any specific changes in contracts or business practices after this case until TV 2 helps you?
“We have already updated our agreements to make them even clearer to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings,” writes Østbye.