United States Polo Association, Inc. and subsidiary USPA Properties, Inc. face a proposed class action over the clothing retailer’s alleged practice of offering fictitious discounts on its website and at retail and outlet stores.
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The 37-page lawsuit was filed by a New Jersey consumer who says she made several purchases at a U.S. Polo Association outlet while under the impression that the items were “30%, 40% and 50% Off,” as advertised on signs within the store. According to the case, however, U.S. Polo Association’s advertised discounts are nothing more than “phantom markdowns” used to lure consumers into believing they are saving money and getting a “good deal” on apparel, accessories, watches and other merchandise.
In fact, the filing says, the company’s merchandise is never sold at the original price represented on price tags. Instead, items sold by U.S. Polo Association are continuously offered at falsely discounted “sale” prices, the lawsuit claims.
An investigation of the U.S. Polo Association’s pricing practices conducted by the plaintiff’s counsel found that every product sold at a discount on its website and at stores throughout California, New Jersey and New York remained perpetually “on sale” from July through December 2019, the case alleges. The complaint says that two additional investigations conducted throughout 2021 and 2022 yielded the same results.
“Retailers, including Defendants, understand that consumers are susceptible to a perceived bargain, and therefore, they have a substantial financial interest in making consumers believe they are receiving a bargain, even if they are not,” the lawsuit reads.
According to the complaint, the artificial price disparity between a product’s false “original” price and its significantly lower discount price misleads consumers into believing an item has a higher market value and entices them into making a purchase. This increases demand for the merchandise, allowing the defendants to sell products at prices higher than above their true market value, the suit says.
The result, the case contends, is that consumers end up paying artificially inflated prices for products they thought were on sale.
“The U.S. Polo Association merchandise is worth less than the inflated prices at which they are offered as a ‘discount,” the filing states. “Without the false reference pricing scheme, the U.S. Polo Association merchandise would not command the higher, inflated prices.”
Per the suit, the defendants’ “systematic and pervasive” pricing scheme violates federal and New Jersey pricing regulations, which prohibit the use of deceptive practices in commerce.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in New Jersey who, during the applicable statute of limitations period, purchased from a New Jersey U.S. Polo Association retail store at least one product at a discount from an advertised reference price and has not received a refund or credit for their purchase.
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