Bunnings loses appeal over ‘lowest price’ promise

26/02/2020

Bunnings has lost a legal battle over price evidence, in the ongoing stoush between two of New Zealand’s biggest DIY retailers, according to a recent www.stuff.co.nz report.

In 2016, the Commerce Commission charged Bunnings New Zealand with 45 offences that alleged the company’s “lowest price” claims were false and misleading.

The company regularly used slogans such as, “Lowest prices are just the beginning” and “Bunnings has the lowest price on everything you need”.

The charges came after Mitre 10 New Zealand complained to the consumer watchdog in 2014 that Bunnings was wrong to claim the lowest prices in the country, according to the www.stuff.co.nz report.

The Commerce Commission charged Bunnings with 45 offences under the Fair Trading Act related to “misleading” price promises. Bunnings denies the claim and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The commission case focuses on Bunnings’ alleged offending between June 2014 and February 2016. It covered print, radio, television and online advertising as well as staff uniforms.

In 2018, Judge Cunningham said Mitre 10 New Zealand could use price comparison evidence it gathered as evidence in the case. Staff member Murray Snowden could appear as a witness, according to the report

Bunnings appealed the decision in 2019 arguing the evidence should not be allowed. In a High Court decision made in December, Justice Duffy dismissed Bunnings’ appeal over the evidence. Mitre 10’s price data comparisons and Snowden’s evidence could be used as part of the commission’s case, according to the court decision.

Each of the 45 offences Bunnings New Zealand is charged with has a maximum fine of $600,000, potentially totalling $27 million, according to the www.stuff.co.nz report.

Bunnings is one of New Zealand’s largest retailers, currently boasting 46 retail stores nationwide and employing more than 3500 staff.