NY’s AG Takes Retailer’s Money to the Bank

Sep 15, 2004

By George Anderson

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers has agreed to pay $425,000 in civil fines and $50,000 in costs as part of legal settlement with New York state over the clothing chain’s advertising practices. The clothing retailer has agreed to stop advertising items as “on sale” unless they are being sold for less than they are under normal situations.

New York’s activist Attorney General Eliot Spitzer claimed Jos. Bank had misled consumers with items advertised as “on sale” for up to 18 months. According to Mr. Spitzer’s office, Jos. Bank’s “Signature, Executive and Trio suit lines were on sale for all but a few days during the period. Less than one percent of these suits were sold at the so-called regular price.”

In a released statement, Mr. Spitzer said, “Retailers have a fundamental obligation to be truthful and accurate with their advertising. A ‘sales price’ or a ‘discount price’ should mean that the item costs less than it usually does.”

Moderator’s Comment: Will Jos. A. Bank’s settlement with the New York Attorney General cost the chain business? What does the chain do now that it no
longer can use what, evidently, was a successful marketing tactic in attracting shoppers?

Jos. A. Bank had not responded to requests for a statement on the settlement or plans for its future advertising practices as of this report’s filing.

The New York’s Attorney General’s office said it would continue to monitor Jos. A. Bank’s advertising to make sure the chain does not stray. Mr. Spitzer
and associates also announced their office would be “conducting a broader review of advertising practices in the retail industry.”

George Anderson – Moderator

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