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Singapore government issues price-transparency guidelines for retailers

Singapore retailers are on notice: tough new rules have been released covering drip pricing, price comparisons, discounts, and the improper use of the term “free” in a bid to eliminate misleading pricing practices.

The state’s regulatory body, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, has issued a set of guidelines designed to educate retailers on pricing behaviour. They take effect on November 1.

The guidelines clarify how the commission will apply the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, to mandate price transparency.

Under the guidelines, suppliers should ensure all charges (including taxes, surcharges, service fees, etc) are disclosed in total headline prices, and institute an “opt-in” approach to any purchase add-ons that carry a charge. They must also take care that price comparisons with competing suppliers are accurate, based on genuine research, and not misleading – regardless of any offer of a refund.

Discount prices must be genuine and reflect an actual drop from a demonstrably higher previous price, and should be provided on a valid basis, with any time limits openly stated.

“Free” items must represent a price of SG$0, and any qualifying terms clearly represented. Suppliers are encouraged to notify consumers before the end of any free-trial period, providing clear information on any subsequent fees as well as the cancellation procedure.

“These guidelines aim to give suppliers greater clarity on how to comply with the CPFTA,” said CCCS CEO Sia Aik Kor. “Suppliers should ensure that their prices are represented accurately and communicated clearly and prominently so that consumers can make informed choices and shop confidently.

“Suppliers also stand to gain as fair-trading practices can go a long way in building a solid reputation as a trusted trader. In short, the guidelines help to build a credible marketplace.”

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