Epharmacy Group Pty Limited (Epharmacy), the owner of the websites for Chemist Warehouse, My Chemist, and Epharmacy, has paid penalties totalling $32,400 following the issue of three infringement notices by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Epharmacy is part of the My Chemist Group which includes ‘Chemist Warehouse’ and ‘My Chemist’ branded pharmacies.
The ACCC issued three infringement notices to Epharmacy because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Epharmacy made false or misleading representations that consumers would save money off the recommended retail price (RRP) for certain Healthy Care branded products purchased through the Chemist Warehouse, My Chemist, or Epharmacy websites, when this was not the case. The Healthy Care range of natural health products is a private label brand that is supplied exclusively to pharmacies trading under the Chemist Warehouse, My Chemist and Epharmacy banners, which are part of the My Chemist Group.
The ACCC considered that by displaying on its website statements next to images of certain Healthy Care products including:
- ‘Don’t Pay RRP $39.99’ ; and
- ‘Save $18.00’,
Epharmacy represented to consumers that by purchasing these products from the My Chemist, Epharmacy, or Chemist Warehouse websites they would save the specified amount off the RRP. In fact, the products had never been offered for sale at the RRP by those or any other retailers.
“Businesses using statements such as 'savings' or 'discounts' when comparing a sale price to the RRP of goods and services suggest to potential customers that they are getting a good deal because the sale price is less than the RRP. But if the product has never been previously sold at the RRP, or the RRP does not reflect a current market price, then this type of comparison misrepresents the savings that may be achieved. ” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“Consumers rely on comparative pricing to find the best deal available. If in fact there are no genuine savings, businesses are misleading consumers and risk enforcement action by the ACCC."
“The ACCC has taken this enforcement action to send a strong message to retailers that they must ensure they can substantiate any claimed savings off recommended retail prices,” Ms Court said.
Epharmacy removed the alleged misrepresentations after becoming aware of the ACCC’s concerns.
The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.