Aldi's practice of selling cheap Special Buy products in limited stock
could be in jeopardy as a consumer affairs program accuses the supermarket
chain of bait advertising.
Dozens of customers queue up on Wednesdays and Saturdays when the supermarket offers discounted one-off products, sometimes less than a handful per store.
An upcoming episode of The Checkout is calling Aldi out on this practice,
claiming it constitutes 'bait advertising', and therefore violates section
35 of Australian Consumer Law.
A Melbourne woman named Marie recounted her disappointment when she went to
seven different Aldi stores before 11am one morning, as she tried to buy her
daughter new school shoes.
"When I asked, all of [the stores] said they only got one of each style
shoe in each size," she says.
The Checkout asked Aldi why it promoted the school shoes in its
Special Buys brochure when it had such little stock.
"In the area of Casey [Marie's local area], stock was not allocated in an
optimal manner. Optimal is another word for we failed to match demand of
colour and size variants in a small selection of stores," the company says.
"We do feel that we comply with section 35 of the Consumer Law."
But Marie's example is one of many incidents where queuing customers went home empty-handed due to a shortage of stock.
Last month a rocking chair sold out within one minute from an Aldi store in Sydney. More than 50 people lined up hoping to buy the chair, but
the store only had eight in stock.
Dyson stick vacuum cleaners sold out even quicker in some stores late last
year. Disgruntled customers took to Twitter saying only a handful of the
vacuum cleaners were available at each store.
Then there were the children's cars being sold at Aldi for $199 in September
2017. But each store only had one or two of them in stock.
The Checkout says the conduct amounts to bait advertising, a practice where
typically on-sale products are advertised despite having limited or no
CHOICE asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
about Aldi's Special Buy practices. The competition watchdog says it
"cannot comment on complaints or potential investigations regarding a
The ACCC's website notes bait advertising is not misleading if "the
business is upfront in a highly visible, clear and specific manner about
the particular product 'on sale' being in short supply or on sale for a
But Aldi apologises preemptively in the fine print of
its brochures, noting its Special Buy products are available while stocks
"Please note stocks are limited and will vary between stores," says the
fine print. "Despite our careful planning we apologise if selected stock
may sell out on the first day, due to unexpectedly high demand."
The ACCC website states consumers have a right to a replacement in cases
where an on-sale product is in short supply.
"If there is not a reasonable chance the offer will be available at the
advertised price, you may be in breach of the ACL unless you promptly offer
a 'rain check', an acceptable substitute product or take other corrective
The Checkout will air the episode examining Aldi's Special Buys at 8pm on
20 February 2018.