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Aldi accused of baiting angry customers

This air purifier has caused outrage among Aldi shoppers. (Image: Aldi Australia)

Aldi Australia has been accused of bait advertising through the release of a controversial product released Saturday morning.

As Yahoo Finance reported earlier this week, high demand was expected for a $99.99 home air purifier released as a one-off Special Buy.

But as soon as stores opened on the east coast on Saturday morning, complaints were seen on social media about the scarcity of stock.

"Apparently Aldi Tuggeranong only received 1 air purifier? And Chisholm 2?" said one commenter.

"Why aren’t these stores receiving more product! Canberra and the south coast clearly need these at the moment."

Another social media user outright accused Aldi of bait advertising, which is the illegal practice of promoting a product knowing it could not offer the deal to most shoppers – using it just to lure them into the store.

"A single air purifier at your Wolli Creek store at opening. What is even the point of advertising it? Textbook example of bait advertising."

An Aldi Australia spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that it suspected the bushfires boosted the demand above expectations.

“Our twice weekly Special Buys are ordered months in advance. With the ongoing devastating bushfires we know that air quality is a growing concern for many Australians, which we believe has led to this product being more popular with customers than we anticipated when ordering it,” the spokesperson said.

“We always strive to allocate optimal stock for our stores to meet demand and it is never our intention to disappoint customers.”

According to law firm Bruce Legal, a company found to be bait advertising can be liable for a $1.1 million penalty. Individuals can be fined up to $220,000.

"Limited stock is one thing but people lined up for over an hour and only the first 2 shoppers got any," said another social media user.

"Disappointed and angry, and sad for the poor staff who are going to cop a lot of abuse today. At least let them put up a SOLD OUT sign so people don't get as frustrated."

This is not the first time Aldi Australia has been accused of baiting customers. It always maintains a disclaimer for all its Special Buys that stock is limited, but the hottest items see customers queuing up outside stores before they open.

Back in 2018, ABC TV's consumer affairs program The Checkout called out Aldi on this practice. Items like ski gear and Dyson vacuum cleaners have been especially popular with Australian shoppers.

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