It is commendable that the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has come up with a set of guidelines that will take effect on Nov 1 and apply to all physical and online suppliers. These specify pricing practices to protect consumers from businesses that engage in misleading advertising. The guidelines cover four areas: drip pricing, which refers to fees added on to the advertised price during the transaction process; false or misleading price comparisons; fake discounts; and use of the term “free”. The move comes as the CCCS looks at strengthening its enforcement powers in administering the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, including the possibility of being able to impose financial penalties without having to go through the courts.
It is fair to say that errant businesses are being put on notice that their old ways of netting unsuspecting buyers will pass in less than two months, and that they must prepare themselves for a fairer balance of interests between consumers and suppliers. Indeed, the new safeguards are necessary to ensure that misleading pricing, which is still the exception, does not become the norm.