There are laws about the way prices are displayed. Prices should be genuine and you should be able to easily see the total price of anything advertised. If multiple different prices are displayed on a product or in advertising, the business has to fix the display or sell you the item for the lowest price.
When prices are advertised or promoted, products and services must clearly display a ‘single price’ which is the minimum total cost that is able to be calculated. This should include:
- the price of all aspects of the final product and service
- all taxes, duties and extra fees.
It does not need to include:
- delivery charges - although the minimum delivery charge should be included separately in the advertisement
- optional charges or extras.
The single price must be at least as prominent as any other price displayed. This means you should be able to identify the total price in the advertisement just as easily as the prices for all the other aspects. For example, the price of a holiday advertised should be inclusive of all costs, including any airport taxes and charges.
Restaurants, cafes and bistros that charge a surcharge on certain days do not need to provide you a separate menu or price list or have a separate price column with the surcharge included. However, the menu must include the words “a surcharge of [percentage] applies on [the specified day or days]” and these words must be displayed at least as prominently as the most prominent price on the menu.
Where different multiple prices appear for one product or service, businesses must withdraw those products and services and fix the display or advertisement. There are exceptions when the advertisement states that prices vary in different regions, where a price is entirely hidden by another price, a unit price is shown, or a price is displayed in an overseas currency.
If you choose an item or service that has multiple different prices displayed or advertised and the business can’t withdraw the product or service from sale and fix the error, you are entitled to buy it for the lowest price.
Misleading prices may include:
- a ‘before’, ‘was’ or ‘strike through’ price that is not the price those items were sold for in the period immediately before the sale period started
- a ‘before’, ‘was’ or ‘strike through’ price where only a limited proportion of sales were at the higher price in the period immediately before the sale period started
- a comparison between ‘cost/wholesale’ and ‘sale’ prices if the ‘cost/wholesale’ price is greater than what the business paid for the products
- a price comparison with a competitor’s price for identical goods, but the stated price is taken from a different market or geographical location
- ‘savings’ or ‘discount’ statements when compared to the recommended retail price (RRP), but the goods have never been sold at the RRP or the RRP does not reflect a current market price.
Businesses may also mislead consumers about prices if they:
- promote a ‘sale’ or ‘special’ price which is not in fact a temporary sale price, thus creating an unwarranted sense of urgency to make an immediate purchase
- represent that an advertised price is the total price that you will have to pay when it is not.