Dishonest retailers slammed for dodgy was/now pricing

The ACCC slams retailers for misleading consumers with false savings claims.

Australian retailers are under for fire for allegedly misleading customers about was/now pricing, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) cracking down on dodgy price listers in the past month.

The ACCC has slammed one retailer – Outdoor Supacentre Pty Ltd, trading as 4WD Supacentre – with $63,000 in penalties after the camping and outdoor supplies store effectively ignored five infringement notices for dodgy listings, reports Nest Egg.

Between December 2018 and January 2019, the ACCC alleged that 4WD Supacentre advertised high-selling products with a high ‘was’ price and a low ‘now’ price, even though the high was price was not advertised at any time during the three months before the low price.

“4WD Supacentre advertised a camp oven with a ‘was’ price of $279 and a ‘now’ price of $84, representing an apparent saving of $195. In fact, the camp oven had not been advertised at a price higher than $104 for the three-month period beforehand,” read an ACCC statement.

Acting chair of the ACCC Mick Keogh said he was “very concerned that this was misleading consumers into thinking they could achieve significant savings with 4WD Supacentre, when this was not necessarily the case”.

Was/now pricing, also known as, dual advertising, strikethrough pricing and two-price comparison advertising, allows businesses to show a price difference between the previously listed high price and the currently listed low price.

It is legal provided customers are not misled about the savings they can achieve. The goods being sold must have been advertised at the listed higher ‘was’ price for a reasonable period before any further reduction in pricing occurred prior to the currently listed ‘low’ price.

“Businesses must tell the truth when advertising ‘discounted’ prices and must not fabricate increased savings,” said Mr Keogh.

“All businesses should ensure they provide consumers with accurate price information, enabling informed choices by consumers based on potential savings and an even playing field for competing businesses that are doing the right thing.”

The ACCC has also recently issued infringement notices to four popular furniture retailers for similar misuse of was/now pricing.

Plush (Think Sofas Pty Ltd), Koala & Tree Pty Ltd (trading as Koala Living), ESR Group Holdings Pty Ltd (trading as Early Settler) and Oz Design Furniture Pty Ltd all paid a fine of $12,600 for making false or misleading representations to customers.

These retailers advertised claims such as ‘was $2599, now $2049’, and ‘$799, save $200’ when the piece of furniture being promoted had never been advertised at the higher price, or was only advertised at the higher price for a short period. One retailer advertised furniture at a ‘was’ price that was $100 higher than the price listed in the six months prior to the currently advertised low price.

ACCC commissioner Sarah Court slammed this practice, saying customers should be able to rely on comparative pricing.

“If there are no genuine savings, businesses are misleading customers,” said Ms Court.

According to law firm HWL Ebsworth Lawyers, customers considering purchases of goods listed with was/now prices should ask the following questions of retailers.

Has the product previously been offered for sale at the ‘was’ price?

Was there a reasonable opportunity purchase the product at the ‘was’ price?

Have you ever been critical of comparative pricing? Do you think the practice is honest and fair?

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Ted Wards
28th Jan 2020
I always watch the prices of items of things that I want to buy and quite often I have noticed the sale price is either the normal price or a few dollars off. An industry that does need watching is the cruise industry. They are rogues and you have to be very vigilant.
28th Jan 2020
Not wrong there, Ted. Depends on what passport you hold and what country you are living in they have different pricing. You might get a cheap deal in Fort Lauderdale and you then turn up with an Aussie passport they might let you on. These offers are only for locals, same as the local debit card offers - not for you!
28th Jan 2020
Some cruise lines in Australia will penalise you if you buy their cruises from overseas if you have an Australian passport. I have an Irish passport and get some great deals on Aussie cruises by buying them overseas.
28th Jan 2020
Many countries have deals on transport if you book In that country and much higher prices for tourists. Just put your computer virtually in the country you wish to travel and check the prices. If cheaper then book with your computer virtually in that country.
28th Jan 2020
VCBB sometimes we do have problems with addresses in that particular country but I understand what you mean. Have a mates in the U.S. whose addresses I can use and the tickets are sent there. Could buy a beautiful cruise in Europe but my credit card does not go that high so I would have to take the cash with me. Euro travels are sometimes cheaper buying right here. I suppose it's a bit like the small print allows you to be a member of Qantas frequent flyer card only if resident in Australia/New Zealand. But I am working on these deals.
28th Jan 2020
You don't need a physical address outside Australia. All you need to do is make your computer look like it is in the country you wish to travel.
28th Jan 2020
Supermarkets are 'guilty' of this too. When they announce a new lower price, the ticket will (in tiny print) show a previous higher price but from a couple of years ago not just three months!

28th Jan 2020
4WD Supercentre has some good cheap camping gear and some good deals too.
28th Jan 2020
Is not just retail shops. I help my elderly aunt doing competition entries in magazines, and they have the so-called recommended retail prices of prizes. These are total rubbish! In latest magazine, they have prize of one item value at $179. But any search, anywhere, shows price of $39. Have a TV saying is worth $2299 - can buy anywhere for less than $1000. Prize of scarf says value is $119 - can buy anywhere for less than $10. Wash machine & dryer combination state value as $1800, yet can buy anywhere for less than $1000. She recently won a prize said valued at $599, but being in an aged care facility, she couldn't use. So we sold it. She was excited thinking she could get a good price, but we could only get $150 for it, because it was grossly overvalued. These magazines should also be looked at.
28th Jan 2020
Art Unions are another area with over valuations. A couple I know won one and it was valued at $3.4 million but they could only get $2.5 million when they sold it.
28th Jan 2020
True - if you want cash you go for the various State lotteries. Should you win you can do with the dosh as you seem fit. Before getting it you might relocate to Bermuda, it's all possible AFTER you win!!
29th Jan 2020
VCB at least they are still $2.5m better off than they were before they won. Sorry but I can't cry for them.
Pass the Ductape
29th Jan 2020
There wouldn't be a retailer anywhere that hasn't tried this little con trick at one time or another.
29th Jan 2020
Lets not call this "confusing". This is a DELIBERATE marketing tool and what is posted are outright lies. For Woolies and Coles most of the so called discount items are being sold at their real normal price.
This trend started with a business called The Outdoor Lighting Store (from memory) in Sydney where the business claimed it was "closing down"........for many years. It was a con.

Tags: money, savings, retail,

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