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“Special offers” were on our radar. Retailers use “special offers” to lure customers with the promise of a bargain. But our investigation found products can be discounted so often the claimed savings aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
We tracked prices for selected products at Farmers and Briscoes for three months and found items on “special” almost every week. Our research found there were good grounds to be sceptical about special offers. Stores routinely promoting the same items as “specials” also risk misleading consumers about the savings available and breaching the Fair Trading Act.
This year, we looked at the marketing of sports drinks, products touted as “scientifically proven” to help anyone “serious about performance”.
Manufacturers claim the carbohydrates in these products “deliver energy to active muscles”. But the main carbohydrate in sports drinks is sugar. One product we looked at had a whopping 15tsp in the bottle. Plain old water and sodium are the other main ingredients in these drinks.
Consumer senior research writer Luke Harrison concluded, “unless you’re a high performance athlete, sports drinks won’t do anything to lift your game and the extra kilojoules could do more harm than good”. Drinking water before, during and after exercise is a far better bet.
Member surveys are a regular feature of our research programme. This year, we asked members about their experiences with retailers when they had to return a faulty product.
Of the 9555 members who took the survey, 35 percent had returned an item to a retailer in the past two years because it was faulty or performed poorly.
The bright spot amidst the faulty phones and failed fridges is the Consumer Guarantees Act. The Act requires goods to be of acceptable quality. If they’re not, you’re entitled to ask the retailer to fix the problem. But knowing your rights is key.
Survey respondents who felt confident about the protections provided by consumer law (73 percent) were significantly more likely to get a refund or replacement when they returned a faulty good. Those who weren’t confident were more likely to get a raw deal.