VIC Is it illegal for Harvey Norman to sell a rug above retail price?

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toastynacho

Member
24 January 2020
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The Harvey Normans from Watergardens in Victoria sold us a rug for $340. We thought that was a bargain as David, the salesclerk, stated that the retail price was $699 and $340 was the discounted price. When we arrived home, we realised the rug was damaged and we were unsatisfied with the quality of the product. When bringing the rug back the following day to get a refund, they refused, stating it was against their policy and we could only get store credit or exchange the rug with another one. Every rug we asked the price for after those hours of negotiation turned out to be even more expensive than the one we had bought. I believe it is to be noted that none of the retail prices were placed on the rugs. David and his two other colleagues, would go to their computers and check the prices and then tell us verbally. We then just took the store credit, which was just a signature with the amount written on our receipt.

The thing about Harvey Norman is that all their departments are privately owned by different people. So we went to another Harvey Normans in Sunshine. The salesclerk showed us the same rug but told us the actual retail price was $329, and there was a further 50% off that price. He also told us David was known to be like this, describing David as a very smart and dodgy guy. This makes us think they have done this with others
The next day we confronted David and his colleagues about what we discovered. They all played innocent and acted as the victims stating we were barging in and causing a scene out of nothing. They quickly gave us a refund and told us to leave.

Now my question is, is it illegal to lie about the retail price intentionally on multiple occasions and not display them on the products?
Also, does anyone have any advice on what we can do further on this issue?
Thanks :))
 

Rob Legat - SBPL

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There's no such thing as a required retail price under the law in most instances, and certainly not in homewares to the extent of my knowledge. There is no law requiring retail prices to be set or capped.

The law generally deals with wholesalers requiring retailers to sell above a minimum price (so as to restrict competition), which is called 'resale price maintenance' (see here: Imposing minimum resale prices).

But here we're dealing with maximum prices. What can happen is that the wholesaler may have an agreement restricting the maximum retail price. It's possible, but I don't know how prevalent. If you wanted to do anything about that you'd have to: (a) find out if there is a maximum imposed by the wholesaler, (b) find out who the wholesaler is, (c) make certain the maximum has been breached, (d) complain to the wholesaler, and (e) hope the wholesaler actually does something about it.

As for the 'lie' aspect, I assume you're referencing that by basing the 'retail price' as being what the second salesman told you? If so, there's no lie here because the second salesman's price isn't the retail price.
 

toastynacho

Member
24 January 2020
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There's no such thing as a required retail price under the law in most instances, and certainly not in homewares to the extent of my knowledge. There is no law requiring retail prices to be set or capped.

The law generally deals with wholesalers requiring retailers to sell above a minimum price (so as to restrict competition), which is called 'resale price maintenance' (see here: Imposing minimum resale prices).

But here we're dealing with maximum prices. What can happen is that the wholesaler may have an agreement restricting the maximum retail price. It's possible, but I don't know how prevalent. If you wanted to do anything about that you'd have to: (a) find out if there is a maximum imposed by the wholesaler, (b) find out who the wholesaler is, (c) make certain the maximum has been breached, (d) complain to the wholesaler, and (e) hope the wholesaler actually does something about it.

As for the 'lie' aspect, I assume you're referencing that by basing the 'retail price' as being what the second salesman told you? If so, there's no lie here because the second salesman's price isn't the retail price.
uh oh
isnt the wholesaler the same tho
 

Rob Legat - SBPL

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By wholesaler, I mean whoever Harvey Norman bought the rug from.
 

Rob Legat - SBPL

Lawyer
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Forget 'wholesaler', and replace with 'supplier'.

The supplier may have contractually imposed a maximum retail price - that's unknown. Without it, Harvey Norman can sell the rug for whatever they want.
 

toastynacho

Member
24 January 2020
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Forget 'wholesaler', and replace with 'supplier'.

The supplier may have contractually imposed a maximum retail price - that's unknown. Without it, Harvey Norman can sell the rug for whatever they want.
what they basically did was charge us the price of the larger version of the same rug but are denying it
 

Atticus

Well-Known Member
6 February 2019
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When we arrived home, we realised the rug was damaged
Under consumer protection laws the three R's apply... Repair, replace or refund... You finished up getting a refund so that's a good outcome
does anyone have any advice on what we can do further on this issue?
You can make a complaint about the store/salesperson to senior management at their head office, explaining your experience... I believe HN are fairly customer focused & do care about their image, so they should follow it up

You can write an HONEST account of your experience (not including names, your personal opinions or assumptions) on that stores Face Book page if comments are allowed...

Personally I would do the former
 
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Ansaa

Member
17 March 2020
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Hi,
I am from Melbourne and used to work for homeware store and the strategy what retailers follow in selling top brands Rugs they usually change the name of the rugs so you couldn't find RRP and and details online or you can go to other store and ask for specific rug and they will not understand as the name was generated by the first retailer where a consumer has saw the rug.
Basically raising RRP is illegal in terms of brands are responsible for it but retailer play with strategy of changing its original name and then RRP and offering it at 50% discount which in other case become more then retail price which is was official.
When I was looking to purchase Rugs or any homeware items I prefer searching it online first.