I was rather surprised to see that this article (PDF/Dutch) didn’t generate more buzz in the Belgian blogosphere. Let me explain.
It’s sales period in Belgium as always during the first month of January. These sales are indeed only allowed a certain moments of the year and are heavily regulated. I won’t go into the details as it’s not to the point (and I would have to look them up ;)).
So what happens at Mango, a fashion retailer? They have almost everything at 50% off, great sales. But if you take away the sales price tag? You notice the ‘real’ original price, shown quite clearly on this photo:
So in reality they’re only giving like 30% off versus what they are advertising right now. According to the folks at the Federal Dept. of Economics what happened here is legally allowed so case closed.
I don’t get it though, legal or not, this is not really showing much respect for your customers is it? Legal or not, we should all find this a problem, seriously. I can already see how the conversation at the Mango office would have been a couple of weeks ago:
GM (General Moron): Alright, January sales are coming up, let’s do all at –50%
MD (Marketing/Sales Dude): Great idea boss, let’s go do it
MD: One problem though, we cannot afford –50%, we wouldn’t make enough profit
GM: That’s not what we want is it … mmm … still want those big –50% stickers on my shops though
MD: I got an idea, why don’t we claim the prices of our products are a bit higher than they really are… and then give 50% off, nobody will notice…
GM: You’re the best! Let’s go get them.
Common practice? According to some it is. Legally ok? Apparently yes. But what I remember from Mango is that they have made it clear they shouldn’t be trusted. Happy shopping.