Australian Opal Cutters, a Sydney-based jewellery retailer, has agreed to remove misleading price comparisons in its promotional material in response to concerns raised by the ACCC.
In advertising and marketing material from at least 2005 until March 2009, the AOC stated that its prices were “50-55 percent off normal retail prices” or “40-60 percent off normal retail prices”.
The company said that the ‘normal retail price’ was based on its market research of what price a consumer would pay for an item if purchased from competitors but the ACCC said “the market research did not provide a sufficient basis upon which a ‘normal retail price’ could be accurately determined or quoted”.
“By comparing its prices with the so called ‘normal retail price’ AOC was in danger of misleading consumers about the value for money they were getting,” said ACCC acting chairman Peter Kell.
“When making price comparisons, businesses must ensure they have accurate, up-to-date figures which will stand up to close examination.”
AOC also agreed to stop using an ACCC letter in its promotional material.
From September 2007 to February 2009, AOC also included a letter it received from the ACCC in a folder that was made available for customer perusal along with testimonials from previous customers.
Kell said the ACCC does not approve or endorse any products or advertising by any company.
“The display of the ACCC letter alongside customer testimonials could wrongly lead consumers to conclude that the ACCC approved of or endorsed AOC’s advertising practices.”
In response to the ACCC’s concerns that it may have breached the Trade Practices Act 1974, the AOC has agreed to no longer refer to ‘normal retail prices’ in its advertising or invoices; remove all copies of the ACCC letter from material accessible by its customers; not advise its customers that AOC has been ‘cleared’, ‘previously cleared’ or ‘checked out’ by the ACCC ; implement a trade practices compliance program; and place a notice acknowledging the conduct on its websites and at its premises.