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Posted at: Feb 11, 2018, 12:54 AM; last updated: Feb 11, 2018, 12:54 AM (IST)CONSUMER BEWARE!

Don’t be tricked by fake sales

Don’t be tricked by fake sales
Selling point: Retailers around the world jack up original prices and then offer a discount istock

Pushpa Girimaji

These days, every big brand in clothes is announcing discounts. Is there any way to determine the genuineness of the ‘sale’?

Unfortunately, it is not easy for consumers to check the veracity of the claims made by a retailer in terms of the discounts given. Of course, they all offer a cut on what they claim to be the original price tag. If it is truly so, then the discount will be genuine. However, it has been established, not just in India, but in many countries around the world, that retailers sometimes jack up the original price and then offer a discount! In order to get at the truth, one has to check the invoices of the retailer prior to the discount sale. The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission had done such investigations while it was in existence and had exposed several false claims. The Consumer Protection Authority envisaged under the Consumer Protection Bill of 2018 can do that, when constituted.

However, till then, consumers have to go on the basis of the brand’s reputation for honesty. Besides, if you are a regular shopper of these branded clothes and have an idea of the price at which it was being sold before the sale, then you will know whether it is genuine or not. I must say that these days, the mark-up on many of these clothes is fairly high. In other words, the retailers would have made a good profit and can well bring down the profit margin after the season is over, in order to clear the unsold stock.

Secondly, consumers are becoming very fashion conscious these days and it may well become difficult for the company to sell the unsold stock the next year, if the trend has changed and the garments have become outdated. So the retailer is anxious to get rid of seasonal clothes even as the weather changes and may offer a truly good discount; one can take advantage of that.

However, you must remember that the discount will be only on winter clothes and not on summer clothes or ‘fresh stock’. So the winter clothes may come relatively cheap, but the question is, as summer sets in, you need to just pack them up till the next winter, taking up a lot of wardrobe space. And next winter, the size may not fit you or the trend may have changed. So, take all these factors into consideration before you make any purchase.

Many of these shops say that as far as discounted clothes are concerned, there is no exchange and there is no refund. Does it not affect the consumers’ right to redress if there is any problem? How does one deal with it?

You must remember that these clothes are being offered at a discount, not because they are defective, but only because of the changing season. So if there is a defect in the clothing or if it becomes unfit for the purpose for which it is bought after a wash, then, as a consumer, you have every right to get redress against such a defective product. And that redress would include replacement or refund, never mind the terms and conditions. When you buy these clothes, even if it is at a discount, you expect it to be safe, defect-free and fit for the purpose for which it is made. And it should last for a reasonable time. So such unilateral terms and conditions will not affect your right to safe and quality goods and your right to a refund or a replacement if it turns out to be defective.

However, if the shopkeeper has impressed upon you at the time of selling the clothes that there will be no exchange or refund and so you must try it on and make sure that it fits, etc., then you may not be able to exchange it or get a refund, only on the ground that you changed your mind. So, do try them on and make sure of your purchase. Or else, buy from retailers who offer goods at a discount, but without these terms and conditions. If fact, I would suggest that you do not patronise shops that impose such conditions for sale. That kind of consumer resistance will force retailers to change their ways! Remember, their need is greater than yours. They need you to urgently dispose of their unsold stock so that their shop shelves are free for new clothes.

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