One of Ochsner Sport’s customers was surprised by what they found when they peeled off a discount price sticker.
According to the consumer watchdog, Fédération romande des consommateurs (FRC), a customer who bought a headlamp from the Ochsner Sport store in Nyon in December 2015, discovered an old price label under the one showing the discounted price. The revealed label showed a price identical to the discounted one (see image below).
The top sticker showed a full price of CHF 59.90 along with a discounted price of CHF 34.90. The sticker underneath, showed a regular price of CHF 34.90. Feeling duped and ripped off, the customer contacted the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). It undertook an investigation, with the help of Fédération romande des consommateurs (FRC), which published the results mid last week.
Swiss rules on price labelling effectively prohibit these kinds of tricks.
As the investigation unfolded, the scale of the affair grew. Indications from SECO suggest that Vaud is not the only canton affected. Contacted by FRC, the company appeared to be aware of the facts. Despite recognising “irregularities”, the company refuted claims they had a strategy designed to deceive consumers. The FRC however, thinks the price labels in the image above suggest the practice goes beyond an isolated case.
The retailer says it will work to sort things out and make sure it is in compliance with the law between now and 1 October 2016.
Responding to the newspaper 20 Minutes, Steve Schennach, a spokesperson for the parent company Dosenbach-Ochsner AG, stated: “The insinuation that a headlamp might have been labelled with a “false discount” is incorrect. The price of the item had effectively been reduced from CHF 59.90 to CHF 34.90 from the start. Among those delivered from our central distribution centre, we found some that had been incorrectly labelled with a price of CHF 34.90 without showing the discount. After the error was discovered, the correct price labels, showing the price reduction, were immediately produced and stuck on top of the erroneous stickers. This has clearly created confusion among the customers concerned.”
SECO cannot issue fines, but the FRC does not want the company to be left unpunished, especially given it recognises the facts, despite giving no indication of how long it has been going on. To this end, the FRC referred the case to Vaud’s public prosecutor on 13 September 2016. The consumer watchdog wants to send a signal to all retailers that breaking the law does not go unpunished.
When the rules are broken, the law allows companies to be fined up to CHF 20,000. The FRC thinks this sum is too low, particularly for a large retailer such as Dosenbach-Ochsner AG. The company is part the Deichmann Group, which had sales revenue of more than 5 billion euros in 2015. The watchdog thinks a case of this size warrants a fine based on the level of turnover, as allowed under antitrust rules.