Charles Tyrwhitt pays $10,800 ACCC fine for misleading pricing on shirts Lucy Cormack THE AGE
When a store compares a "was" price to a "now" price, it can be the difference between a shopper purchasing something and not. The only problem is, what if the product was never actually purchased for the original price?
The practice is known as two-price comparison advertising, and this week it left a London-based clothing manufacturer and retailer paying a penalty of more than $10,000.
The Charles Tyrwhitt shirt which was advertised at once being $160 despite no consumer ever having paid that price.
Charles Tyrwhitt LLP sells men's and women's shirts, business clothing and accessories which are advertised extensively online and in printed catalogue inserts in Australian newspapers and magazines. The brand, which spruiks "exemplary customer service, with smashing prices and a pinch of British charm thrown in for good measure," is known for its deal-based offers, like its set of four shirts for $199. But following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the retailer was issued a $10,800 penalty and an infringement notice for contravening the Australian Consumer Law with its "was/now" pricing practices in the sale of at least 737 business shirts.
The ACCC found Charles Tyrwhitt had made a false or misleading representation in relation to the "was" price of a men's "slim fit non-iron micro-spot white" shirt on its website, between February 2016 and March 2016.
Charles Tyrwhitt LLP sells men's and women's shirts, business clothing and accessories which are advertised extensively online and in catalogue inserts.
The shirt was advertised with a "was" price of $160 and a "now" price of $69, however the "was" price had only been advertised for a short period in a section of the Charles Tyrwhitt website which was difficult to locate, and no consumer had ever purchased the shirt at that price.
The ACCC determined that the pricing falsely represented to consumers that by purchasing the shirt there would be a saving, when that was not the case.
The retailer is popular for its multi-shirt deals.
"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," said ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court. "Comparative advertising can be a powerful marketing tool but it is essential that retailers ensure that any advertised savings are real, truthful and accurate." Ms Court said the enforcement action against Charles Tyrwhitt served as a reminder to overseas businesses that supplying products to Australian consumers required that they comply with Australian regulations.
Australian consumer law states that businesses that use two-price comparison advertising, like "was/now" prices, "strike through" or indicating a particular dollar amount or percentage saving, must ensure consumers are not misled about the potential savings.
Charles Tyrwhitt did not respond to a request for comment.