The real deal
A word of advice about advertising promises.
17 January 2011
With retailers desperate to win your spending money, you may be seeing some terrific deals out there. But don’t you hate it when the deal you were after is not in the store? So what can you expect from a sale?
The Fair Trading Act prohibits stores from misleading customers about their products through advertising on TV, radio, fliers, signs in the store, and anything you are told when you are in the store.
The store can’t advertise a cheap price on a product if they don’t have enough of them. So they shouldn’t have run out of a product when you arrive early on the first day of a sale. If the store has run out of the advertised product, ask if you can get a rain-check – this means you can get the same item for the sale price when they get more stock in.
You’ve probably seen a lot of stores advertising “up to 50% off”. The store should have a reasonable number of items at half price, not just one or two. A sale advertised as “50% off everything” should mean everything in the store is half price. A store shouldn’t use ‘fine print’ to try to qualify this.
The advertised price and quality can’t be different to what you find in the store. Any other information they tell you about the product has to be true too, including how big it is, what functions the product can do, and where you can use it. If you’ve got a flier or catalogue, you can take it to the store with you so you can compare what was advertised with what is available.
If you think a trader has breached the Fair Trading Act then talk to them about it first. Point out the difference in quality or price to them, you may be able to get the item for a cheaper price.
You can report a breach of the Fair Trading Act to the Commerce Commission which enforces the Fair Trading Act. The Commerce Commission can investigate and prosecute a trader who has breached the Act.
You can also take a case to the Disputes Tribunal if you think a trader has breached the Fair Trading Act.