Thu, Mar 17, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Clarify discounts, watchdog says

DODGY ADVERTISING: The consumer watchdog said most supermarkets did not provide clear information about the so-called bargains they offered consumers

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporter

A woman holds a supermarket promotion leaflet during a press conference held by the Consumers’ Foundation in Taipei yesterday. The foundation conducted an inspection of promotions from various stores and called on the outlets to include more detailed and accurate information in their direct marketing.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Several retailers could be violating regulations if they fail to provide essential information in advertisements for discounts, such as the original and discounted price and how “limited” supplies are for limited offers, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.

The consumer rights watchdog said that supermarkets, wholesalers and retailers of everyday supplies often advertise their promotional offers through in-store displays, but that those advertisements could constitute false advertising if they do not provide consumers with enough information to make informed purchases.

Earlier this month, the foundation surveyed 12 supermarkets and stores in northern Taiwan to assess the information provided in advertisements for discounts. It found that 11 stores, or 92 percent, failed to indicate the quantity of available supplies when -mentioning that sales of certain products were “limited.”

“With the exception of RT Mart, the stores surveyed provided no information about how much supplies were available for a product sale,” foundation chairperson Joann Su (蘇錦霞) said.

Such practices, she said, could represent false advertising and violate the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法), adding that stores should inform customers about how many items are being offered if product quantity is limited.

The foundation also found that 10 of the stores surveyed called their offers “bargains” or “discounts” without telling shoppers what the original or discounted price was, making it impossible for customers to know whether the “bargain” price was actually a bargain.

Six of the stores surveyed did not clearly inform customers of the terms and conditions associated with the promotional -offer, such as whether discounted -products were only available at certain branch stores. Failure to do so could be misleading and encourage customers to visit a branch where the promotion does not apply, the foundation said.

The foundation also said stores should avoid phrases such as “prices for reference only,” saying that businesses should take responsibility for the content of their advertising.

If a product is not in fact sold at the advertised price, the practice constitutes false advertising, it said.

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