We’ve all been inundated with mailings, flyers, coupons, and leaflets touting sales with immense savings or deeply discounted prices. Everyone knows that the word “sale” gives us a sense of urgency. It denotes a temporary discount. Saying that something is on sale is supposed to let you know you only have a limited time to take advantage of an offer.
But those sale prices might not be what they seem, especially if the sale has gone on for too long.
BBB advises consumers and businesses to pay close attention to how long sale prices are advertised. Sales should only be for a limited time (like 30 days) and then return to their normal price. If the item stays at the sale price forever, is it really on sale? Probably not. At some point, the sale price becomes the regular price.
The BBB Code of Advertising states:
1. The unqualified term “sale” may be used in advertising only if there is a significant reduction from the advertiser’s usual and customary price of the merchandise offered and the sale is for a limited period of time.
2. The former price should be the actual price at which the advertiser has been currently offering…the merchandise immediately preceding the sale, on a regular basis, and for a reasonably substantial period of time.
If the item is on sale for long enough, the “sale” price becomes the actual price, and companies can’t use the word “sale” to give a false impression that you’re getting a discount. When you see the same item on “sale” for the same price continually, think twice. The false sense of urgency that this scenario creates can be deceptive.
So, next time you’re walking through the mall, going through junk mail, or even searching for coupons online be sure to take a closer look to see if you’re really getting that special deal.