The full price of goods and services – not just a component price – must be displayed prominently as a single figure. Unit pricing is now compulsory for some grocery retailers so consumers can quickly compare the price of similar products. Lay-by agreements are spread over at least three instalments. Fair debt collection laws protect consumers against debt collectors using threats, deception or misrepresentation.

Clarity in pricing

Clarity in pricing requirements deal with how business may use “component pricing” (specifying the price for each part of a good or service separately) when advertising their products.

The requirements are contained in section 48 of the ACL and require that where a person, in trade or commerce, makes a price representation that is less than the total price required to be paid for the good or service involved (a component price) then the person must also specify in a prominent way and as a single figure, the single price for the goods or services. To be sufficiently prominent it must be “at least as prominent as the most prominent” of the partial price representations. This would prevent, for example, car companies specifying a price “plus on-road costs”. Therefore, although component prices are not prohibited, the full price is now required to be prominently displayed. An amendment to these rules allows the Commonwealth Minister to exempt certain industries from the requirement to display a single price, and it has been determined that this new power will be used to exclude restaurants and cafes from the requirements.

The provision also requires a person to specify the minimum amount required to be paid for sending goods to the customer, where this price is known at the time of the price representation. However, this may be listed as a separate figure and it does not have to be included in the single specified price.

Unit pricing

Unit pricing allows consumers to quickly compare the value of similar products of varying size and brands. From 1 July 2009, new regulations make it compulsory for some grocery retailers to display a unit price on store labels and in advertising where a selling price is displayed. The new unit pricing requirements are set out in the Trade Practices (Industry Codes – Unit Pricing) Regulations 2009. The code affects retailers that sell food-based groceries to consumers.