Australia’s Federal Court has declared that Dell Australia made false and misleading representations on its website about the prices of add-on monitors and in ‘strikethrough’ prices shown on the website.
When a consumer selected a desktop, laptop, or notebook on Dell Australia’s website, they were shown several compatible monitors and offered the option of bundling a monitor to the purchase, often at a discounted price. The monitor was often shown with a higher strikethrough price, representing a significant saving if purchased with the computer.
Dell Australia admitted that the monitors were not sold for the ‘strikethrough’ price for most of the relevant time and, in some cases, the add-on price shown was more expensive than if the monitor was bought on a stand-alone basis.
Dell Australia also admitted that it made misleading statements about the discounted price of the add-on monitor on its website, including “Total Savings”, “Includes x% off”, “Discounted Price” and “Get the best price for popular accessories when purchased with this product”. In fact, the company sold more than 5,300 add-on monitors with overstated discounts.
Dell Australia has refunded or agreed to offer compensation to more than 4,250 affected consumers, who bought a monitor which was advertised on Dell Australia’s website with a discount that was in fact overstated or was not a discount at all.
“We brought these proceedings because we were concerned that Dell Australia had misled its consumers with false representations about its pricing and discounts,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.
“As the Court noted, price and discounts are key differentiating factors for consumers deciding between product offers, and this case reinforces the importance of retailers displaying genuine ‘was/now’ pricing and accurate savings.”
Consumers paid more than $2 million for add-on monitors between August 2019 and mid-December 2021. Dell Australia has been ordered to offer full or partial refunds to affected consumers. Some consumers have already been contacted and Dell Australia will now contact other consumers eligible for a refund.
The Court will hear submissions on penalties and costs at a later date.