Another useful reminder that retailers can’t use fine print to escape their obligations to consumers: the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last week fined Foxtel a total of $46,200 for misleading advertising in its 2011 Christmas sale.
Foxtel promoted an offer including six-months of access at $55 a month, but only mentioned in a small-print clause that the actual contract was for 12 months and prices rose to $77 a month after the deal kicked in. As ACCC chairman Rod Sims explained”
The inclusion of an asterisk or a fine print disclaimer does not remove the potential for a headline to be misleading. Companies must ensure that they do not use misleading headlines about the price and other key terms and conditions of the services being offered. It is not enough for a company to try to correct a misleading headline using fine print text.
Something of the same logic underpinned the ACCC’s ongoing stoush with Apple over the 4G capabilities of the iPad. In that case, Apple agreed to offer refunds and to change its advertising materials, though a court decision over whether that advertising was misleading is pendng.