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Chemist Warehouse accused of price tampering during Black Friday sales

Sydney Australia – October 17 2017: Chemist Warehouse sign above the entrance to the drug store on Oxford Street. Chemist Warehouse was founded in 1973 is a large discount chemist chain with stores throughout Australia. (Source: Bigstock)

Chemist Warehouse has been accused of inflating product prices across the Black Friday weekend, signalling ‘savings’ which were actually higher than the standard prices advertised before and after the shopping event.

According to a report by consumer advocate Choice, at least three products saw prices a collective 38 per cent higher than their ‘regular’ price – a wooden bath brush, a pack of 1000 fish oil tablets, and Blackmores calcium and magnesium tablets.

“Our shopper found that prices jumped significantly on Black Friday on three items in her online shopping cart,” Choice said.

A Chemist Warehouse spokesperson told Choice that the issue was that the Cyber Week sales landed in between two other sales campaigns, meaning, what Choice said identified concerning pricing behaviours were, in fact, “simply the dovetailing of marketing activities”.

“Three separate sales events ran from one, into another and then into the other,” the spokesperson said.

The Brush, Fish Oil and Calcium Tablets in question are currently $15.49 (saving $1.50),  $9.99 (saving $5) and $20.49 (saving $20.50 off of recommended retail price), respectively.

Chemist Warehouse said the issue isn’t price gouging, but the issue of retailers’ inconsistent pricing strategies confusing shoppers isn’t one to ignore.

The New Zealand Commerce Commission warned retailers against the practice in the lead up the Black Friday this year, and said it wouldn’t hold back from taking businesses to court over the matter, as it has in the past.

“Prices should not be increased before a sale to immediately claim a bigger discount at sale time,” Commission chairwoman Anna Rawlings said.

“A [promotional] sale should provide a limited opportunity to buy at a genuinely reduced price and should not continue for prolonged periods of time offering the same price.”

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