A European directive should protect customers better against ‘sales fraud’, the artificial raising of prices just before a discount is calculated. Any discount shall have to be compared to a ‘reference price’, being the lowest price the product has been on sale for in the latest thirty days.
Sneaky price hikes
The Belgian government will invoke this directive to battle against fraudulent discounts, which are compared to an artificially raised and unrealistic price. As such, customers who flock to huge discounts think they are striking a bargain, but in practice may pay as much as – or even more than – the previous ‘real’ price. In a sweep with 6,776 checks on pricings, almost a third of all discounts were contrary to at least one law or regulation, local newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws writes.
According to Eva De Bleeker, Secretary of State for Budget and Consumer Protection, the stricter regulation will ensure consumers will receive more transparent and correct information on discounts: “Sellers who do not follow the rules or continue their fraudulent behaviour, will have the Economic Inspection to answer to”. A new hotline will allow consumers to flag potential abuses.