You’ll remember that the ACCC was kicking up a stink about the legitimacy of the shopper docket scheme back in August and in response Coles and Woolies sought to tame the controversial effects with some undertakings. The latest in the supermarket soap opera sees the watchdog take the duo to court for falling foul of their commitments.
While sticking to the funding side of the bargain, some sneaky discount arrangements have had the effect of offering consumers a little more than the 4 cent discount maximum. Woolies shoppers are offered an additional 4 cent discount if they spend over $5 on other items at the petrol station. Coles offered an extra 10 cents if $20 was spent at its pumps. In either case you need to have shopped at the supermarket to qualify for the further discount at its affiliated pump. The fragmenting of the discount offer hasn’t fooled the watchdog and seems to reinforce the ACCC’s concerns with tying arrangements.
The thing with giving court enforceable undertakings is exactly that – fall short of your promise and you’ll be marched to the court by the ear to stick to your word. While we’re yet to see the supermarkets have a day in court over predatory pricing (or any other Part IV contravention), it’ll be interesting to see what the bench makes of the duopoly’s strategies.