Shoe, clothing brands in Pakistan warned against 'deceptive marketing'

CCP says discrepancies observed in approximately 96% of the outlets surveyed

Mehtab Haider
December 31, 2023
Clothes with discount signs are displayed at a shop in Cambrai on the first day of summer sales in France, June 30, 2021. — Reuters
Clothes with discount signs are displayed at a shop in Cambrai on the first day of summer sales in France, June 30, 2021. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD:The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has warnedshoe and clothing brands toensure complete and visible disclosures of actual and discounted prices on sale items, The News reported Sunday.

"The brands violating this directive may face enforcement actions by the CCP," said the advisory issued by the CCP.

During the ongoing seasonal surge in discounts, particularly within clothing and shoe brands, the CCP uncovered instances of deceptive marketing practices. Preliminary investigations indicate that such practices may violate Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010, constituting deceptive marketing.

The CCP’s survey and preliminary probe identified 27 brands offering ‘flat’ discounts on their products. However, the CCP noticed that the ‘flat discount’ didn’t apply to all items. The discount advertised outside the shop was higher than the actual sale prices inside. The disclaimer about ‘terms & conditions’ had an illegible font size. In numerous cases, ‘terms & conditions’ weren’t mentioned at all.

Additionally, certain offers, like ‘flat 50% plus 20% on bank cards’, had differing terms for online and retail purchases, leading to confusion and potentially misleading consumers into uninformed purchases.

These discrepancies were observed in approximately 96% of the outlets surveyed. This lack of disclosure containing essential information hampers consumers’ ability to make informed decisions.

The CCP has advised consumers to exercise vigilance and thoroughly review the terms and conditions of discounts and sale offers to avoid falling victim to deceptive marketing practices.

The CCP has already issued “Guidelines on Section 10: Deceptive Marketing Practices”, which also prohibit ‘Bait and Switch Advertising’. It is the act of advertising a product at a low price but charging a higher price at the point of purchase.

These guidelines emphasise the responsibility of undertakings to ensure clear disclosure of terms and conditions across all media to avoid creating false impressions about the goods on offer. Fine print disclaimers and qualifications that are difficult to read or hide important information are strongly discouraged.

The CCP remains committed to its mandate under the Competition Act, striving to ensure free competition, enhance economic efficiency and protect consumers from anti-competitive behaviour.