Recently the ACCC has penalised some large companies for advertising in a manner in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. The following is a summary of the infringing conduct and penalties imposed:

  • Arnott’s Biscuit Ltd (Arnott’s)
    Penalty: $51,000 fine
  • The ACCC issued 5 infringement notices to Arnott’s alleging that Arnott’s had made false and misleading representations that the Shapes Light & Crispy biscuits contained 75% less saturated fat than original Shapes biscuits. The Light and Crispy biscuits in fact contained approximately 60% less saturated fat than original Shapes biscuits. Arnott’s intended the comparison to be with potato chips cooked in 100% palm oil which was referenced in small text at the bottom of the front of pack. The ACCC made the point that even if this was an appropriate comparison to make, it may well have been misleading in any event as approximately 80% of potato chips available in Australia are not cooked in palm oil.

  • Cereal Partners Australia Pty Ltd (CPA) manufacturer and distributor of Uncle Tobys Oats
    Penalty: $32,400 fine
  • The ACCC issued 3 infringement notices to CPA alleging that it made misleading claims about the protein content of Uncle Tobys Oats Quick Sachets and Traditional Oats. The packets of these products featured statements that suggested the products contained significant levels of protein along with the disclaimer ‘when prepared with [1/2 or 2/3] cup of skim milk’ which appeared in fine print below the misleading statements. As Rod Simms, Chair of the ACCC, said: “Business should be aware that a fine print disclaimer is insufficient to correct or qualify a prominent representation on packaging or in advertising that is false or misleading.”

  • Epharmacy Group Pty Limited (Epharmacy) owner of the websites for Chemist Warehouse, My Chemist, and Epharmacy (the Websites)
    Penalty: $32,400 fine
  • The ACCC issued 3 infringement notices to Epharmacy alleging that Epharmacy’s advertisements which stated: ‘Don’t Pay RRP $39.99’ , and ‘Save $18.00’, represented to consumers that by purchasing these products they would save the specified amount off the RRP. In fact, the products had never been offered for sale at the RRP. “Businesses using statements such as ‘savings’ or ‘discounts’ when comparing a sale price to the RRP of goods and services suggest to potential customers that they are getting a good deal because the sale price is less than the RRP. But if the product has never been previously sold at the RRP, or the RRP does not reflect a current market price, then this type of comparison misrepresents the savings that may be achieved” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

The ACCC issued 3 infringement notices to Epharmacy alleging that Epharmacy’s advertisements which stated: ‘Don’t Pay RRP $39.99’ , and ‘Save $18.00’, represented to consumers that by purchasing these products they would save the specified amount off the RRP. In fact, the products had never been offered for sale at the RRP. “Businesses using statements such as ‘savings’ or ‘discounts’ when comparing a sale price to the RRP of goods and services suggest to potential customers that they are getting a good deal because the sale price is less than the RRP. But if the product has never been previously sold at the RRP, or the RRP does not reflect a current market price, then this type of comparison misrepresents the savings that may be achieved” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.


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