Have you ever been inclined to make a purchase because an item was “on sale” and you thought you were getting a great bargain? Just as the Christmas shopping season rolls into high gear, government attorneys have filed suit against four big national retailers for false advertising that allegedly misled shoppers into believing thousands of products were “on sale” at hefty discounts.
Macy’s, Sears, JC Penney and Kohl’s have allegedly been involved in a deceptive advertising practice known as “false reference pricing.” This is when companies advertise merchandise with high “list” or “regular” prices that were never actually sold at that price. According to the lawsuit, this practice causes customers to believe they are getting a better bargain with the “sale” price than they actually are. For example, the lawsuit alleges that in May 2016, Macy’s offered a “sale” price of $30 for a “Large Cross Pendant Necklace in Sterling Silver” with an “original” price of $120. However, Macy’s never actually sold the necklace for the price of $120.
In 2015, similar lawsuits were filed against JC Penney and Kohl’s accusing the retailers of tricking customers by inflating original prices. Consumer experts warn consumers to be skeptical of “sale pricing.” They also encourage consumers to compare prices at different stores as a way to avoid falling victims of these deceptive practices.
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