It has been found in the Adelaide Federal Court that retailer Harris Scarfe Australia Pty Ltd, misled consumers by falsely advertising discounts on products in late 2006.

The court found that Harris Scarfe misled consumers by representing in a catalogue that certain advertised items were discounted by a specific amount when in fact they were discounted by less than that amount, or were not discounted at all.

The offending promotion was held in October 2006, and advertised 20 – 60 per cent off storewide in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.

The catalogue included banners throughout, specifying a discount for particular ranges of goods including TVs, cameras and kitchen appliances, beneath this banner were pictures of examples of goods on offer.

However the discounts actually offered on some of those pictured items were less than the discount specified in the banner.

As an example, Harris Scarfe promoted 20 per cent off all cordless phones, but in actuality a lot of the models featured were below this. One model was only 7.2 per cent cheaper, another 10 per cent and two others were 14.5 per cent and 16.1 per cent.

Harris Scarfe was found to have breached sections 52 and 53 of the Trade Practices Act 1974, and Justice Mansfield ruled that Harris Scarfe “be restrained for three years, in any advertisement representing that it will supply goods in its stores at a specified discount, from including immediately beside, under or near the statement of the specified discount, pictures or descriptions of goods to which that specified discount does not apply or of goods which are not discounted at all.”

ACCC chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel said, “Consumers deserve truth in advertising and the ACCC will continue to tackle retailers that persist in using misleading or false representations in advertising.”