Spot Check: Are your price reduction ads putting you at risk?

NEW mobile phone!! WAS $399 NOW $199!!

BRAND NEW phone!!  $199 – SAVE over 50%!!

1052433_shoppingAds that show ‘two price’ or ‘was / now’ pricing are common, effective and legal … provided they’re not misleading. There are special rules about how to get ‘was / now” pricing ads right. While care needs to be taken, getting it right is relatively easy.

Getting it wrong can be costly, as the former owners of the Zamel’s jewellery chain have found – the ACCC took them to court over allegedly misleading ‘was / now’ price ads in one of their catalogues. In January 2009, the court handed down a fine of $380,000.

So, what are the rules? Well, the ACCC has actually published guides on issues to be addressed before running a ‘was / now” price promotion. Here’s a summary:

You should ensure that:

  • products were actually sold at the ‘was’ price for a period of at least 14 days before the advertisement (note that this is the suggested minimum – a longer period may be reasonable in the circumstances)
  • at least 75% of the actual sales of the product before the promotion were at the ‘was’ or higher price
  • the ‘was’ price is not simply the RRP if the products were not actually sold at that price in sufficient quantities
  • the promotion is intended to end or the intention is to remove the ‘was’ price by a specified date
  • the products were sold at the ‘was’ price for a longer period of time than the period of the promotion
  • there are reasonable grounds to believe that there will be stock at the end of the promotion (i.e. this is not a stock run out)
  • if the promotion is a stock run out sale, that must be made clear to customers.
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