Supply Chain Charges? Make Them Plain to Your Customers!

November 21, 2022
Written by Alina Lee

Has your business been impacted by supply chain disruptions? Have you responded by imposing additional charges? A recent case involving the paint giant, Sherwin-Williams, makes clear what NOT to do!

Last year, Sherwin-Williams began imposing a 4% surcharge on all consumer purchases in response to COVID-related supply chain costs. Class action plaintiffs in New York now allege they suffered economic injury as a result of a “deceptive bait-and-switch scheme”.

Specifically, customer plaintiffs allege:
❌ Sherwin-Williams’ surcharges were added “covertly” because they weren’t included in listed product prices but were nonetheless tacked on at the register;
❌ no signs or disclosures told them about the 4% surcharge while they were shopping;
❌ they were “often entirely unaware of the surcharge until after paying and checking out”; and
❌ if they’d known about the surcharge, they wouldn’t have bought their paint from Sherwin-Williams.

The TAKE HOME:
📌 Avoid adding “late in process” fees. Price adjustments should be consumer-friendly; customers should know about price adjustments while shopping and not afterwards.
📌 This can be as easy as building adjustments into a retail price that is clearly and conspicuously displayed in-store.
📌 Providing additional pricing or fee information in a transparent way, early in a transaction, can help retailers avoid investigations or lawsuits.

💡Need help making sure your business’ practices comply with the law? Contact us at Your Ad Attorney.

About The Author Alina Lee

I am a marketing law attorney who helps marketing agencies and companies with marketing departments protect their brands. In my legal career, I’ve worked at two prominent law firms and in-house at two renowned companies. Through my firm, Your Ad Attorney, I provide end-to-end legal counseling for your front-end marketing, online paywalls, and customer service communications. Plus, I provide up front flat rates on a project-by-project basis with clear turnaround times.

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

This blog gives general information about marketing law trends and updates. Nothing on this site is meant as legal advice. Each situation differs on a case-by-case basis depending on the facts presented. Providing this information doesn’t create an attorney-client relationship and readers should not act upon this information without seeking legal counsel. 


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