Valu$ and ABC ordered to pull down never ending 'Closing Down Sale' ads

Discount retail store ABC Bargain Centre, Valu$, and ABC Express will be halting its use of “Closing Down Sale” and “Fire Sale” advertisements, following a discussion with Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS). In a press statement, CCCS said the advertisement, which were displayed continuously without any end date, is misleading to consumers and constitutes an unfair practice in breach of the Consumer Protection Act.

"Advertisements bearing such language convey the impression that the reason for the discounted price is due to impending closure of the business, and that the discounted price would only be available for a limited period of time. As the advertisements were displayed continuously without any end date, CCCS is of the view that such advertisements can mislead consumers into believing that there is a price benefit, and the benefit would only be available for a limited period," the statement added. 

Moving forward, ABC Bargain Centre, Valu$, and ABC Express will remove any and all advertisements containing the word “Fire Sale”. They will also not advertise any products as being available at a discounted price for a limited period of time, where they know or ought to know that the products will continue to be available for a substantially longer period, unless the retail outlet in question is genuinely ceasing operations. Additionally, the retail stores said they will not advertise products as being available at a discounted price where no genuine price benefit or advantage underlying the advertisement exists.

CCCS added that it is "closely monitoring" other businesses that engage in similar unfair practices, where consumers are made to believe that there is a price benefit, and a scarcity in the availability of discounted prices for goods or services through misrepresentation of discounts or promotion periods. 

In a similar case last year, CCCS called out Thai steamboat restaurant "Charcoal Thai 1" for unfair practice of representing its goods or services are available at a discounted price. It is stated that Charcoal Thai 1 did not establish an end date for its discounts on the promotional materials published on its website, social media page and in-store posters and menu.

These promotional materials stated that the discounts for meals were either available for a “limited period only”, or would be “Ending Soon! 50% Discount”. However, findings from the consumer watchdog revealed these promotions have been ongoing since February 2016. CCCS said such claims on the discount period misled consumers into believing that there is a price benefit and scarcity in the availability of the promotional prices.

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(Photo courtesy: Valu$ Shop At City Square Mall B2)

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