Shirtmaker courts ACCC troubleBY ARA
London-based clothing manufacturer and retailer, Charles Tyrwhitt, has paid a $10,800 penalty after being issued with an infringement notice by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), following an investigation into the company’s ‘was/now’ pricing practices.
Charles Tyrwhitt advertises men’s and wom en’s shirts and other business clothing and accessories extensively to Australian consumers online and in catalogue and printed newspaper/magazine inserts distributed within Australia.
The ACCC issued the infringement notice because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Charles Tyrwhitt had made a false or misleading representation in relation to the ‘was’ price of a men’s ‘slim fit non-iron microspot white shirt in ‘was/now’ pricing on its website between February 2016 and March 2016, in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC considered Charles Tyrwhitt’s ‘was/now’ price representation, with a ‘was’ price of $160 and a ‘now’ price of $69, falsely represented to consumers that by purchasing the shirt there would be a saving of the difference between the ‘was’ and ‘now’ prices when that was not the case because the shirt has not been genuinely offered for a reasonable period at the ‘was’ price. Charles Tyrwhitt had advertised the shirt at the ‘was’ price of $160 for a short period in a section of its website which was difficult to locate, and no consumer had ever purchased the shirt at the ‘was’ price.
“Comparative advertising can be a powerful marketing tool but it is essential that retailers ensure that any advertised savings are real, truthful and accurate,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“Was/now price representations are likely to be misleading if the products have not been sold at the 'was' price for a reasonable period immediately before the sale or ‘now’ price is offered.”
“The ACCC’s enforcement action against Charles Tyrwhitt also serves as a reminder to overseas businesses that if they supply products to Australian consumers, they must comply with the Australian Consumer Law,” Ms Court said.
The payment of a penalty following the issuing of an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.
Further information about two price comparative advertising can be found here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.