Retailers warned on Easter holiday surcharges

easter eggs in shopping basketRetailers were reminded not to mislead consumers during the Easter holiday by charging surcharges, and if they do choose to charge additional charges, they must be clearly disclosed and the reasons for the surcharge accurately described to avoid breaching the Fair Trading Act, the Commerce Commission warns.

Commissioner Anna Rawlings said businesses are now routinely using surcharges to recover additional costs such as higher staff wages payable on public holidays.

“Ultimately a business can charge what it likes for its products or services and consumers will make their own decisions about whether to pay or go elsewhere. However, if a surcharge is applied, it must be clearly disclosed and the reasons for the surcharge must not mislead customers,” Rawlings said.

Businesses that mislead consumers over surcharges breach the Fair Trading Act.

The Commerce Commission suggests that when applying a surcharge, businesses must ensure customers are made aware of the surcharge before they make a decision to purchase so they can decide whether to pay for it or go elsewhere, and retailers should describe accurately the reason for the surcharge, like for instance, a business must not claim it has added a surcharge on Easter Sunday as only Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays.

Rawlings urges businesses to comply with the Fair Trading Act and encourages consumers who feel they have been misled to report it.

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