The Jewellery Group, trading as Zamel’s, has been fined $250,000 by the Federal Court for misleading consumers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer brought to the court’s attention the jewellery retailer was misleading consumers regarding savings made on jewellery.

The court found that by using statements such as “WAS $275 NOW $149”, Zamel’s represented to consumers, who were unaware they could obtain discounts outside Zamel’s sales periods, that they would save an amount being the difference between the higher and lower price if the items were purchased during the sale when that was not the case. This applied to 44 jewellery items featured featured in one or more Zamel’s catalogues and a flyer distributed nationally by letter box drop, in-store and on Zamel’s website between November 2008 and May 2010.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the penalty was a clear message to businesses that the court takes a dim view of this sort of conduct.

“The ACCC has taken steps to ensure consumers are not misled as to savings they may make when retailers advertise goods. In this very competitive market, consumers are vulnerable to false and misleading tactics and the penalty imposed by the court today should serve as a stern warning to other retailers,” he said.

Apart from the fine, the court has also ordered the company to publish corrective notices in newspapers and on its website, implement a trade practices compliance program and pay the ACCC’s costs.