The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has obtained, by consent orders, a Federal Court declaration that A Whistle and Co (1979) Pty Ltd, trading as Electrodry Carpet Dry Cleaning, breached the Trade Practices Act 1974 by distributing brochure
The brochures, which displayed the GST-exclusive price on the front page in large type and the total price in much smaller print, were the subject of many complaints. Also coupons at the back of the brochure included large-type GST-free prices accompanied by very small type GST-inclusive prices.
Delivered to household letterboxes, the brochures were the primary means by which Electrodry promoted its business in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
The ACCC took legal action resulting in an apology on the front page of Electrodry’s next brochure and injunctions preventing Electrodry from engaging in similar conduct.
Businesses should be aware of the price exploitation guidelines and other material issued by the ACCC concerning price displays and take care that their advertisements do not mislead consumers as to the total price payable.
The ACCC will continue to monitor advertising relating to GST prices in all industry sectors.
Consumers with concerns about misleading advertising should contact the ACCC Price Exploitation Hotline on 1300 302 502.
* Professor Allan Fels is chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission