Australia: How Much Is That Doggy In The Window (And Is The Waggly Tail Included In The Price)?

Last Updated: 22 October 2008
Article by Michael Corrigan

Key Point

  • Businesses face criminal prosecution for failing to specify the single figure price of a good or service when making a representation to consumers.

The Federal Government has introduced into Parliament proposed legislation regarding component pricing. The legislation is widely thought to be targeted at advertising that does not include all applicable fees and charges.

The Trade Practices Amendment (Clarity in Pricing) Bill 2008 seeks to amend the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (TPA) by introducing a new section 53C which will require single figure pricing in advertising for goods and services, quotes, tenders and contracts. Breach of the proposed new section will be a criminal offence. Civil remedies will also be available.

If implemented, the Bill will require that corporations specify the single figure price of a good or service when making a representation about price to consumers (to the extent that a single figure price is known at the time the representation is made). There is an exception for representations made exclusively to a corporation.

This reform will particularly affect:

  • advertisers of goods or services that have ancillary charges (such as additional delivery charges or additional Government taxes or levies) associated with them;
  • businesses that price their goods or services using a mixture of fixed and variable charges (such as volume- or time-based charging, or contingency fees); or
  • businesses that sell bundled products.

Importantly, the requirements of the Bill will only apply to goods or services of a kind ordinarily acquired for personal, domestic or household use or consumption.

As with the earlier component pricing amendments proposed in March 2008 , the Bill does not prohibit component pricing altogether. Corporations will continue to be able to make component price representations to consumers provided the single figure price for the good or service is also prominently displayed at the same time.

However, corporations will still be required to comply with the other consumer protection provisions in the TPA, including the well known general and broad prohibition on misleading and deceptive conduct in section 52 of the TPA.

Single figure

Corporations are required to state the price of a good or service as a "single figure" to enable consumers to readily compare between like products. This "single figure" is an "aggregate" of all components included in the "single price".

Component pricing can still be used in advertisements provided the single price is also clearly stated in the advertisement in an equally prominent way.

For example, the Explanatory Memorandum states that it would be acceptable for a corporation to represent the price of a good or service in the following way:

  • $299 + $29.90 GST for a total price of $328.90; or
  • $79 + $35 taxes fees and charges for a total price of $114.

Minimum quantifiable consideration

The term "single price" only includes amounts that are quantifiable when the representation is made (ie. "minimum quantifiable consideration"). A total price is quantifiable if it can be converted into a dollar amount. Relevantly, this includes:

  • a charge of any description payable by the customer to the corporation making the representation (excluding optional charges);
  • any tax, duty, fee, levy or charge imposed on, and payable by, the corporation making the representation in relation to the good or service being supplied, such as GST or sales tax;
  • any tax, duty, fee, levy or charge imposed on, or payable by, the consumer which is collected by the corporation under an agreement with the Government (airport departure taxes are an example).

The known and unknown charges

Where the final price will be a mixture of quantifiable and non-quantifiable charges, the charges that are quantifiable should be represented as a single figure, but you will probably also need to indicate that not all components are included in the single figure price (eg. by an appropriately worded and prominent disclaimer).

Where a total price is not quantifiable but a minimum total price is known, that minimum price must be disclosed as a single figure.

Optional charges

Certain elements of a price do not need to be included in the single price disclosure where they represent costs that are payable only at the option of the consumer, such as a credit card surcharge, if other payment options are available.

Delivery charges

Delivery charges for goods must either be included in the single price or displayed (if the amount is known) as a separate component.

The "equally prominent disclosure" requirement

A customer must be able to easily identify the single figure price in a price representation. The Bill would require a corporation to specify the single price for goods and services in a way that is "at least as prominent as the most prominent of the parts of the consideration for the supply" (eg. in terms of positioning in the advertisement and font used).

If you bundle goods and services together under a single contract, and the contract commits the customer to acquire the relevant services for the term of the contract, the "equally prominent disclosure" requirement will only apply to goods that are not directly related to the supply of the services.

For example, it appears that if you sell a mobile phone plan which bundles telecommunications services with a new mobile phone, you can display the monthly rate more prominently than the overall contract price, because the goods (the phone) are directly related to the services (call services which use the phone).

What should be done if the Bill passes?

While the Government believes the Bill will not impose unnecessary compliance burdens on businesses, the Bill does add a further layer of regulatory scrutiny to the making of price representations by business to consumers.

Generally, businesses should review advertising campaigns and sign-off procedures to ensure good compliance, not just with the new section 53C but also with the other consumer protection laws. In particular:

  • Businesses will need to carefully and constantly monitor the minimum price of postage, couriers and packaging for goods to ensure that those costs are incorporated in the single figure price and are accurately represented. If they do not do so, they may infringe the new section by having "knowledge" of the minimum cost of such charges. They may also run the risk of infringing the other prohibitions of Part V of the TPA by not accurately representing the price of the goods sold.
  • Those preparing promotional catalogues will also need to ensure that any advertising materials display the single price of a product in a way that is at least as prominent as any of the components of that price.
  • Businesses will also need to revise their use of fine print disclaimers detailing mandatory taxes, fees and other charges which are additional to the cost of the goods or services being supplied, as these costs must now be incorporated in the single price.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.