Class actions have been brought against number of famous brands for false “original” pricing in their outlet stores on merchandise that was made to be sold cheaply. This case alleges a new twist on such false reference pricing, by extending it to a company’s main stores, catalog, and website. The complaint claims that Eddie Bauer, LLC’s clothing and other goods are not expected to be sold at their original prices. It claims that the majority of the time, the company runs “sales” offering certain percentage discounts, sometimes on “everything.”
The class for this action is all residents of the US who, within the limitations period, received an e-mail sent by or from Eddie Bauer that contained in the subject line (a) “xx% Off” or a similar statement, or (b) a statement offering a discount on “Everything,” “Your Purchase,” or the like when one or more products were not discounted. Alternatively, the complaint proposes a Washington state class.
Eddie Bauer sells casual and sports clothing and related goods through a chain of stores, its catalog, its website, and its outlets, for men and women. It runs frequent sales—too frequent, the complaint alleges.
The complaint says that its investigation has shown that “in 2017 there were a total of 290 days in which Eddie Bauer advertised on its website a site-wide sale of either ‘xx% Off Everything” or “xx% Off Your Entire Purchase.’ For the remaining 75 days of 2017, Eddie Bauer continued to offer approximately 60-70% of its products at a discounted price. There was not a single day in 2017 where Eddie Bauer did not offer the majority of its products for sale at a discounted price or offer a fixed percentage off … of one’s entire purchase.”
Are goods ever sold at the original prices? Yes, but “only a tiny fraction of products offered by Eddie Bauer in its stores and on its website is consistently offered without an advertised discount. These few non-discounted products primarily consist of sleeping bags, tents, and non-Eddie Bauer brand (i.e., third-party brand) products.
The complaint contends that “more than 90% of its products” have false discounts and list prices, because the items are rarely offered at full prices. It claims that the discounted “everything” offers are false because they do not apply to the sleeping bags, tents, and third-party products.
The complaint lists the subject lines of various e-mails the company sent out to customers between December 2017 and April 2019. These include, for example, “Take 30% Off EVERYTHING,” “50% Off Everything? This Is MADNESS!” and “Oooh! Ahhh! Everything’s 50% Off.”