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Types of Advertisements- Part III

A handful of traders tend to engage in unethical conduct and expect to get away with it. However, continuous market surveillance by the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) ensures
26 Feb 2018 11:00
Types of Advertisements- Part III
Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission chief executive officer Joel Abraham.

A handful of traders tend to engage in unethical conduct and expect to get away with it.

However, continuous market surveillance by the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) ensures that such acts are detected and traders are taken to task where they are found to be in breach of the FCCC Act 2010.

Today, we look further into the types of claims and strategies used by traders and service providers in their advertisements which may be misleading in nature.

  1. Price comparison claims

Price comparisons may be expressed or im­plied.

Examples of express price comparisons are claims that a selling price has been dis­counted by way of price reduction, like “50 per cent off on selected range of goods” or “$20 off on certain items upon spending $100 or more”.

On the other hand, claims such as “clear­ance sale” or “special sale” or “special price” or “super special” or “super deals” normally carry the implication that the advertised sell­ing price is lower or has been reduced com­pared to other price offers of the business.

Should this not be the case, the conduct of the business would be misleading or decep­tive.

Price comparison in advertising can pro­vide consumers with very useful information and may enhance consumer choice, provided that the comparison information is accurate and the advertiser is able to substantiate the claims with evidences.

  1. Value

False representation about the value of a good is prohibited under FCCC Act 2010.

Businesses need to be very careful in this area, both when advertising goods or selling

or when giving valuations of the goods.

Advertising claims such as “purchase any item and go into draw to win $120,000 worth of product or goods”, when in fact the true value of the winning product or goods is less than $120,000.

  1. Other advertising strategies

(a) Advertisements on “Combo Deals” pro­vided by white good suppliers.

For example, in a combo deal, a toaster, rice cooker and iron are on sale for a combined price of $200.

The individual price of each item when add­ed together should not be less than or equal to $200.

(b) Advertisements which states “Buy one item and get second item for ½ Price”.

Such advertisements need to clearly outline which items are part of the promotional sale, and which items can be purchased by the consumers for half price.

Failing to clearly outline such advertise­ments would create confusion and mislead­ing impression, thus may warrant investiga­tion by FCCC.

  1. Fine prints in advertisements

The overall impression created by particu­lar advertisements, statements or represen­tations are important in assessing whether there has been any contravention of FCCC Act 2010.

‘Fine Print’ qualifications will not necessar­ily correct a misleading impression created by other more prominent words in an adver­tisement.

Similarly, ‘fine print’ terms and conditions will not overcome false or misleading repre­sentations in any transaction.

  1. Non-disclosure

Not only what is said but also what is left unsaid may be misleading or deceptive.

Half-truths and non-disclosure of material facts may breach FCCC Act and other con­sumer laws of Fiji.

Particular cases will depend on the sur­rounding circumstances, but generally the important factor is the impression likely to be created in the mind of the person affected by the conduct.

FCCC wishes to reiterate that the time lim­its to promotions should be clearly stated in all the advertisements.

In some cases, an advertisement for promo­tion is open-ended, yet the consumers are told that the promotion is to run for a short time only.

As such, all the advertisements must have a promotion “Start Date”, “End Date” and “Draw Date”.

This is a mandatory requirement under FCCC “Texting Competitions/Promotions Guidelines for Fiji”.

Further, businesses must keep their records for at least seven years under the FCCC Act 2010. When businesses are publishing any ad­vertisements, the “Terms and Conditions” of the advertisement should be readily availa­ble to consumers to make informed decisions about their purchase.

It has been noted that businesses mostly write “Conditions Apply”; however, they fail to provide the Terms and Conditions, and while few businesses provide this Terms and Condition, it is provided in fine prints which consumers find difficulty in reading.

FCCC through its daily surveillance of ad­vertisements in the media and in-stores has noted that certain advertisements being placed during business sales and promotions tends to have elements that are misleading.

Hence, as a proactive measure notices are issued to businesses and service providers seeking compliance to the FCCC Act 2010 and promoting fair trading practices.

This is done in order to allow business to comply with the consumer protection laws as failure to do so may result in strict enforce­ment action.

Alternatively, consumers are encouraged to take heed of the elements of an advertise­ment and seek clarifications when unsure.

Source: Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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