Home / Health / Big W $15 sale of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book leaves customers angry

Big W $15 sale of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book leaves customers angry


Big W customers across Australia have written of their “disgust and anger” at the handling of the sale of the new Harry Potter book.


8th Harry Potter story launches

Throngs of fans packed bookstores for the midnight release of the latest, and apparently last, Harry Potter book.

In the lead-up to the release on Sunday, the retailer had advertised a “one-day only” discounted price of $15 for the purchase of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the latest addition to the J.K. Rowling series.

“Available at Big W on Sunday 31st July from 9:01am AEST for a one-day only price of $15,” read Facebook advertisements and printed promotions received by customers.

However, by Monday morning more than 200 customers had taken to Big W’s Facebook page to complain that stores around Australia had run out of the book almost instantly, and were told they would have to wait until stocks were filled, at which time they could buy the book for the recommended retail price of $45.

“There are not enough words in the English language to express my disgust and anger with the totally unconscionable and unethical behaviour of your business in advertising the latest Harry Potter books for $15, despite being fully aware that they would sell out in minutes,” customer Mason Blunt wrote on Facebook.

Customers complained that stores were not sufficiently stocked to meet demand, with some stocking fewer than 50 books.

“I’m sorry, but what on earth were you thinking only sending 42 copies of the Cursed Child to Big W Yeppoon?!” customer Carolyn Booth wrote on Facebook.

Big W customers around Australia have complained about the sale of the latest J.K. Rowling book, <em>Harry Potter and ...
Big W customers around Australia have complained about the sale of the latest J.K. Rowling book, Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildPhoto: Graham Tidy

A Big W spokesperson said the one-day special launch offer was clearly identified as “while stocks last” via print and online catalogues, but added that “social media channels did not carry this message and we are reviewing our internal processes to ensure terms are consistent across all platforms”.

“Customers should be aware that we have additional limited stock arriving this week at the discounted price of $20, as advertised. We continue to seek further stock from the publisher but no further stock is yet available, again due to unprecedented demand for this new play.”

Big W said it is reviewing internal processes, after social media advertisements failed to mention a book sale was "only ...
Big W said it is reviewing internal processes, after social media advertisements failed to mention a book sale was “only while stocks last”. Photo: Glenn Hunt

On the Gold Coast, a law professor who was affected but asked not to be named, said Big W’s actions “violated the Australian Consumer Law bait and switch provisions”.

“There was no indication on the cover of the Big W [magazine] or Facebook page that there was limited stock … except for one small asterisk inside, in six-point font that it was ‘while supplies last’,” she said.

People gather for the release of the new Harry Potter book, <em>Harry Potter and the Cursed Child</em>, at Dymocks in Sydney.
People gather for the release of the new Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, at Dymocks in Sydney.  Photo: Wolter Peeters

At the Big W store at Burleigh Stocklands shopping centre on the Gold Coast, she was told the store had received only 150 copies of the book and had a policy not to provide rain checks.

After leaving a public Facebook post complaining and messaging the store directly, the customer said she was told on Monday that she could buy the book for $15.

Promotions for the $15 sale of the book on the Big W Facebook page.
Promotions for the $15 sale of the book on the Big W Facebook page. 

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, bait advertising can be a legitimate form of advertising, “however, it is illegal to engage in this conduct where goods or services are advertised for sale at a discounted price, and they are not available in reasonable quantities and for a reasonable period at that price”.

A spokesperson for the ACCC said it did not have any specific comments in relation to recent matters raised regarding Big W.

“If there is not a reasonable chance that the offer will be available at the advertised price, a business may be in breach of the ACL unless it promptly offers a ‘rain check’, an acceptable substitute product or take other corrective action,” she said.

“The ACCC would be concerned if errors in any representations made to consumers were likely to be false, misleading or deceptive.”

In Sydney, Potter fans lined up for up to 2½ hours at the Dymocks bookshop where the book retailed for $29.99.



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