Sales and promotions during the festive season, what you should know
January 12, 2021
Big sales, big crowds, big profits – holiday shopping is big business. However, like most of 2020, holiday shopping this year will be anything but typical. Fueled by changes in customer preferences and economic situations as a result of the global pandemic and Tropical Cyclone Yasa, shopping may be different this year. Careful planning and better consideration for holiday promotions would mean a reduction in expenses and more savings.
An overindulgence on promotions can sometimes cost consumers more rather than less. In 2019 the Council recorded complaints worth $80,000 in the festive season alone. These complaints ranged from misleading advertisements, cash back offers, price surcharges and a failure to issue receipts.
This festive season consumers are urged to give due consideration to the following types of promotions when shopping:
Customer loyalty schemes – This is a promotional tool used to encourage frequent or recurrent business from customers who have a connection to a particular brand or company. Consumers take advantage of these schemes to be eligible for discounts or points which can be redeemed for rewards or goods and services.
what to consider:
- Consumers who are already or are intending to be part of a loyalty scheme are advised to be wary of making unnecessary purchases just to earn more points.
- It is imperative that consumers weigh the costs of redeeming points and identify whether it would be better if they conduct comparative shopping instead and find the same products for a cheaper price.
- Determine if the points you have earned in the scheme has an expiry date. Many loyalty schemes have conditions where the points will expire if consumers do not participate in the program.
- For consumers who de decide to join a loyalty scheme, it is important to pay close attention to any notices or emails disseminated by the company as this often describes changes to the program.
Creating a false or misleading impression – businesses are not allowed to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression as stated in Section 75 of the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010. This applies to advertising, product packaging and any information provided by staff and online shopping services. It makes no difference if businesses intend to mislead you or not. If the overall impression left by a business’s advertisement or promotion creates a misleading impression than the behaviour is likely to breach the law.
Some of the most common misleading advertisements recorded at the Consumer Council of Fiji include:
- Fine Print – while it is common practice that some information in advertisements will be in fine print, it must not contradict the overall message of the advertisement. For food labelling and packaging, ingredients, directions and warning signs must be visible.
- Bait advertising – this takes place when advertisements promote products that are not available or in very limited quantity and have not clearly indicated that there is a short supply of that product.
- Price deception – is when a company uses false or misleading prices for its promotions. For instance, a business places an item on sale and it is discovered that the item was never higher than the sale price.
Cash back offers – businesses and retailers in Fiji often offer cash back promotions to encourage consumers to buy their products. These offers are usually limited in time and have a special application conditions consumers’ need to meet before they are eligible to receive the money.
It is against the law for retailers and manufacturers to mislead or deceive consumers by offering cash back deals without intending to or failing to provide them. Consumers are urged carefully examine the terms and conditions for cash back offers. Always check for:
- The date the offer expires
- Waiting times for receiving the offer
- Requirements that need to be fulfilled to get the cash.
Consumers applying for cash back offers need to ensure:
- That all conditions of the offer are met (you may need to include product serial numbers, bar code, and receipt copies)
- All documentation is kept in a safe place as evidence in case something goes wrong.
Gift Cards and discount vouchers – gift card and voucher schemes provide consumers an alternative to cash when buying products and services from certain businesses. Discount vouchers on the other hand generally offer a discount off specified products and services. It is imperative that consumers ensure that all conditions and restrictions on how gift cards and discount vouchers are clearly specified.
Consumers facing issues while shopping this festive season can contact the Council on toll free helpline 155 or via the Consumer Council of Fiji Mobile App. Alternatively, they can email on firstname.lastname@example.org