Small print won’t always save you from being misleading or deceptive

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) recent issuing of fines to large companies engaging in misleading or deceptive advertising highlights the need for businesses to ensure their advertising does not give a false or misleading impression to customers.

In December last year, Harvey Norman was fined $1.25 million for falsely leading customers to believe that 3D televisions could receive 3D transmissions anywhere in Australia when in fact they were only being broadcast in some major cities.

More recently, the ACCC has fined Foxtel for misleading advertisements which stated in large print that customers could purchase a Foxtel subscription at $55 per month on a 6 month contract. An asterisk then led customers to the small print terms and conditions which stated that the contract was actually for a 12 month period, with the price increasing to $77 after the initial 6 month period.

Commenting on small print advertising, the ACCC chairman Rod Sims stated that an asterisk or fine print disclaimers do not remove the potential for a headline to be misleading.

If the small print does not save the overall impression of the advertising, then it is likely that the advertisement will be considered misleading or deceptive.

Businesses who advertise should carefully consider how their advertisement would be viewed by a consumer, and should ensure that any significant terms or conditions are prominent in the advertisement.

If you advertise your business and you are concerned that you may be engaging in potentially misleading or deceptive conduct, please contact Certus Legal Group.