Collingwood has paid the price for an advertisement relating to a membership offer. Copping $20,400 for its infringements of the pricing provisions of the Australian Consumer Law, Collingwood did not prominently state the total minimum price payable for that offer.
In May 2013, in an attempt to obtain more members, Collingwood advertised an offer in the Herald Sun and emailed more than 90,000 people. Collingwood offered prospective members a three game membership and Collingwood guernsey for “only $20*”. Whilst in the fine print the advertisement referred to a payment plan, the offer did not detail anywhere that a total price of $120 was payable over a 6 month period.
The ACCC has the power to issue infringement notices without a matter going to Court.
Section 48 of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) requires that in relation to the promotion, supply or possible supply of goods or services, a person making a representation that includes part of the price of goods or services must also specify in a prominent way and as a single figure the total price payable by consumers. In other words, consumers ought to know in advance the total price payable for goods or services.
By paying the infringement, Collingwood avoided any further penalty. The payment of the infringement is not an admission of a breach, so no points are awarded against Collingwood for their conduct.
In recent years, the ACCC has been proactive in enforcing pricing provisions of the ACL.
In 2012, Foxtel paid seven infringement notices issued by the ACCC totalling $46,200. The advertisements included a prominent headline that a subscription could be acquired for $55 per month on a sixmonth contract. In fact, the fine print locked customers into a 12 month contract with a price increase to $77 per month for the second 6 months.
In December 2012 the Federal Court imposed a penalty of $200,000 on Air Asia. Between March 2011 and January 2012 the company did not display on its website some airfare prices inclusive of all taxes, duties fees and other charges in a prominent way and as a single figure. In his reasons, Justice Tracey commented that not only do such actions attract customers to a transaction which, but for the misleading price, they would not have otherwise entered into, but a company engaging in such practices will also gain an advantage over other competitors who do the right thing.
The High Court has also recently given leave to the ACCC to appeal a decision in relation to TPG concerning pricing provisions and misleading conduct. In that matter, some TPG advertisements did not prominently specify the single price for the advertised internet and home phone services