Dell Australia is to refund thousands of customers after they were found to have paid $2 million for supposedly discounted monitors.
The Federal Court of Australia declared by consent that the Australian branch of Dell Technologies misled consumers about discount bundles of adding a monitor to a new laptop or desktop computer purchase.
Over 5,300 add-on monitors were sold with overstated discounts, with Dell refunding or agreeing to offer compensation to more than 4,250 affected consumers.
“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.
“In some cases, consumers paid more for the add-on monitor advertised as ‘discounted’ than they would have paid if they had bought it as a stand-alone product, which is shocking.
In November last year, the ACCC instituted Federal Court proceedings against Dell for allegedly making false or misleading representations regarding the price of monitors that consumers could add on to purchases of Dell computers from at least August 2019 to 16 December 2021.
At the time, the vendor was claimed to have made false or misleading representations on its website about the prices of monitors and the potential savings when a monitor was purchased with a computer. Often, the monitor was allegedly shown with a higher price in strikethrough, representing a significant saving.
Now, Dell had admitted that the monitors were not sold for the strikethrough price for “most of the relevant” time, with some cases showing the add-on price being more expensive than if the monitor was purchased separately.
Additionally, Dell also admitted it made misleading statements about the discounted prices, which included “Total Savings”, “Includes x per cent off”, “Discounted Price” and “Get the best price for popular accessories when purchased with this product”.
Additionally, the Court ordered Dell to appoint an independent compliance professional to review its compliance program, as well as issue corrective notices to consumers that bought add-on monitors.
Submissions about penalties and costs are to be heard at a later date.
“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," Commissioner Carver added.
“This case serves as an important reminder to businesses that suggestive upselling or bunding of products must not mislead consumers as to the deal they are getting.”