The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched a court action against retailer Emma Sleep and its subsidiaries for misleading prices.

The regulator has alleged that the retailer advertised false and misleading prices for its mattresses, bed frames, pillows and accessories.

The proceedings are against Emma Sleep GmbH and two of its subsidiaries, Philippines-incorporated Bettzeit Southeast Asia and Australian company Emma Sleep Inc.

Between 15 June 2020 and 27 March 2023, Emma Sleep advertised its products online with a “strikethrough”, displaying a percentage discount, which indicates specific savings for customers.

But the ACCC has claimed that these products were never, or almost never, sold at the higher “strikethrough” price.

ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe stated: “We allege Emma Sleep enticed consumers to buy its products by misleading them about the discount or savings they would get, and by creating an artificial sense of urgency about the availability of its discounted pricing.

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“Consumers may have been deprived of genuine and informed choice, and Emma Sleep may have unfairly gained a competitive advantage over other suppliers.

“False advertising practices are designed to indicate to the consumer that something is a good deal or bargain, when it is not.”

Emma Sleep also allegedly misled consumers by offering a limited sales campaign with countdown timers which reset themselves.

Catriona Lowe added: “Misleading consumers by indicating a price is a limited-time offer, or suggesting they are getting a discount or saving money when this is not the case, is unlawful. It is designed to get consumers to make a purchase based on false information.”

The regulator is calling for declarations, injunctions, penalties, consumer redress and costs.

In July 2023, UK regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) urged Emma Sleep to change its misleading online sales practices.

The CMA, which launched an investigation in November 2023, found that Emma Sleep’s discount claims did not stack up against the actual savings.