When running price promotions or ‘special offers’, it’s against the law for businesses to give a false or misleading previous price. For example, if the business crosses out one price and replaces it with another, lower, price, the goods in question must have been on sale in the same place, or a significant number of outlets, in the case of a chain, at that previous price for a reasonable time.
How long “a reasonable time” should be is not spelled out in law. Our view is that the product should only be advertised as a discounted price for the same amount of time as it was available at the previous higher price.
A product has been for sale at €100 for four weeks. If this is cut to €75, it should only be advertised as the reduced price of €75 for a maximum of four weeks.
If a chain or a business with more than one outlet advertises goods at a certain price, that price should apply in all its outlets where the goods are sold – unless the advertisement makes it clear that the price applies in certain outlets only.
If you see individual items on a shelf being sold that say that they are part of a multipack and are ‘not to be sold separately’, this is not a breach of consumer legislation as it is only a recommendation from the manufacturer. However, you could complain to the manufacturer of the goods about the business, as the business is not acting in the spirit of the offer made by the manufacturer.
In the case of special offers, the business has discretion as to how to display such offers, but what is being offered should be clear and unambiguous to consumers.