ACCC launches updated advertising and selling guide

17 April 2014

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has revised its ‘Advertising and selling guide’ to help educate businesses about their legal rights and obligations when selling and promoting their products and services.

“Truth in advertising is not just a slogan, it’s the law. The Australian Consumer Law aims to put businesses on a level playing field by requiring them to truthfully advertise their goods or services,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“Nor can they try to get an unfair advantage over other firms by misleading their customers.”

“Whether on television, radio, the internet or print media - businesses must ensure their advertising and selling practices comply with the law,” Dr Schaper said.

The revised publication provides businesses and their advertising and selling agents with detailed, practical information about how the consumer law applies to their specific selling and promotional activities.

It also includes new guidance for businesses seeking to promote their products or services using “was/now” or “strikethrough” pricing.

This follows from recent ACCC enforcement action, including the Federal Court penalising Zamel’s $250,000 for misleading consumers in relation to its advertised “was/now” prices for jewellery.

“Businesses must ensure that consumers are not misled about the savings they can achieve,” Dr Schaper said.

Other new content in the guide includes tips for businesses on the use of online marketing vehicles such as social media, online reviews and online group buying. The Federal Court recently penalised online group buying website Scoopon $1 million for misleading businesses about the cost or risk of running a deal on the site, and consumers about their refund rights and the price of goods advertised in some deals.

The guide has been released as an online book, which allows users to quickly access and search for content that is relevant to their business. It includes examples of business behaviour that is likely to breach the law as well as links to further information such as case law and summaries of relevant ACCC enforcement action.

Deputy Chairman Michael Schaper explains how 'was/now' pricing can help you attract customers, but can also be risky in some circumstances.

See the guide: Advertising & selling

Release number: 
MR 93/14
Media enquiries: 
Media team - 1300 138 917