US-based discount retailer Value Village has been found guilty of engaging in deceptive marketing practices after being hauled before the courts for referencing itself as a charity by the state of Washington.
The profit-driven retailer, the largest of its kind in the world is now liable for unspecified damages imposed by Washington’s attorney general as a result.
This arose from its business practice of paying non-profits and charities an agreed rate for public donations it received when soliciting for money using their names and logos. This is separate from the sale of goods which incur no charitable payment.
Confusion arose from Value Village marketing which implied that all purchases benefitted charities, including in-store ads which read: “Your donations and purchases help us fund (nonprofits') programs and services. How's that for shopping with a smile?”
Washington Attorney general Bob Ferguson said: “Value Village profited by misleading Washingtonians into believing that it was a nonprofit. My office received numerous complaints from consumers who feel deceived by Value Village's advertising.”
The level of penalty imposed for the violation will be decided at a subsequent hearing in the spring.