Black Friday: Watchdog slams discounts that can be months out of date
A consumer watchdog has hit out at retailers for using historic sales prices in advertising 'Black Friday' deals.
On the biggest pre-Christmas sales day in Ireland, customers are being told of discounts that are sometimes months out of date.
For example, PC World says it has cut €200 off the price of Canon's S200 camera to a new seasonal sale price of €150.
However, the outlet has listed the camera in recent weeks for €199, making the difference €50 instead of €200. The giant retailer also claims to have cut the price of a Panasonic 49-inch television "by €700" to €799. However, it was recently selling the TV for €899, a much smaller discount than the one advertised.
Asked about the discrepancies, a spokesman for PC World declined to comment. Other retailers have similarly overstated discounts on their seasonal sales offers.
Countrywide chain Argos advertised a set of Philips wireless Bluetooth headphones at €45, a price the store says is "less than half price" and a saving of €105.
However, the headphones have been available from the retailer for the last four months for €73, resulting in a lower-than-advertised discount.
A spokeswoman for Argos said that the advertised reduction referred to its original advertised price in June.
Some consumer advocates say that retailers are not being upfront with shoppers. The head of the Consumers' Association, Dermot Jewell, said that companies were recommended to have listed a product at the stated pre-sale price for 28 days out of 90 days immediately prior to the sale.
"To do otherwise is just not on and misleads the consumer," he said. "It's not fair."
Some retailers say that their pricing is "dynamic" and changes on a weekly or a daily basis.
A current Harvey Norman promotion lists a 40-inch Panasonic television with a claimed reduction from €829 to €499. However, the store recently listed the price for sale at €549.
"We don't put multiple prices on TVs online, just the original starting price of that product and the current price," said a spokesman for the nationwide chain. "Our policy is to match what we consider our direct competitors as listed on our site. We scan our competitors' sites at least twice a day to ensure we are the same price or cheaper. TV is a volatile category with prices sometimes changing two or three times throughout the day."