'Limited period' promotion ran for at least 2 years

Charcoal Thai 1 restaurant has been found to be in breach of the consumer protection law for promoting meal discounts without specifying an end date, Singapore's competition watchdog said.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) said in a statement yesterday that it started investigations into Charcoal Thai 1 last year.

Promotional materials - published on the eatery's website, social media page, in-store posters and menu - said that discounts for lunch sets and steamboat items were for a "limited period only" or would be "ending soon! 50% discount".

But the commission found that the items continued to be available for at least another two years after February 2016, when the promotions first appeared.

Charcoal Thai 1 had breached the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, which states that it is unfair practice for businesses to represent that goods and services are available at a discounted price for a stated period of time if they know or ought to know the goods and services are available for a substantially longer period.

CCCS said such claims not only misled consumers into believing that there was a price benefit and scarcity in the availability of the promotional prices, but it also gave the eatery an unfair advantage over businesses that complied with the Act.

Charcoal Thai 1 has since agreed to stop the unfair practice and not engage in other similar practices. It has also taken steps to address the commission's concerns.

The consumer watchdog has closed its investigations into the case, although it added that it would continue to monitor the restaurant's conduct.

 

CCCS said it reserves the right to investigate any breach of the undertaking or any other unfair practices by Charcoal Thai 1.

It reminded businesses not to engage in any practices that are likely to mislead consumers.

Ng Huiwen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2019, with the headline ''Limited period' promotion ran for at least 2 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe