3-Step Guide to the Unfair Sales Act
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Wisconsin's Unfair Sales Act is indeed constitutional. We fought hard for this victory and it was wonderful to finally get the news. So now it's time for a refresher on how the law works.
- Calculate your legal price. Basically, the law requires you to sell your product at a price that covers a proportionate part of the cost of doing business. That's why there is a mark-up; to simply ensure that true costs are being covered (NOT to guarantee any profit). That mark-up is either 6% above your invoice cost or 9.18% above the wholesale price. Because the law also allows you to factor in replacement cost we've developed a simple calculator for you to use. Just put figures into the four yellow boxes and the calculator computes your legal price.
To use the calculator you will need a crucial piece of information: the Average Posted Terminal Price. This is the price posted at the terminal closest to you for the product you're selling. Axxis Petroleum, a division of OPIS, is once again publishing these prices daily. Simply go to Axxis Petroleum's website, scroll down to the Wisconsin Fair Market link on the far lower right side and download the information. Axxis may require you to sign in one time, but registration is free.
- Meet competition. It's crucial to know your legal price; that's your starting point. However, the law always allows you to meet the price of a competitor--whether they are across the street or across state lines. There is no satisfactory definition of "competitor" but generally if your customer would drive to another station for a lower price, that station is your competitor. Obviously the distance of a competitor is different for stations in the city or the country, and competitors can be across state lines--but the rule of thumb about customers "driving away" is the same.
If you have a competitor who is offering a price lower than your legal minimum, you may choose to match the price exactly, or come somewhere close to the lower price. You may NOT beat the lower price of a competitor (unless of course your price is still above the legal minimum). To notify the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection that you are meeting competition, and therefore NOT breaking the law, you should fax a meeting competition form to 608-224-4935.
- Take Action. There are two ways to take action against someone who is violating Wisconsin's Unfair Sales Act, and you can pursue both at the same time: (1) Send in a complaint form to DATCP via fax or mail as listed on the form. (2) File a private cause of action. Obviously hiring your own attorney and filing your own lawsuit costs money, but the statute allows you to receive three times your actual losses or $2,000 for each day of violation, whichever is greater.
Any questions? Please feel free to call Jennifer Badeau at (608) 256-7555.