Consumers are being ripped off by misleading special offers and discounts as supermarkets disregard pricing guidelines new research by the consumer watchdog shows.
During an analysis of 450 special offers, Which? the consumer group discovered discounts that allude to a previous price that wasn’t the most recent, multi-buys that cost more than buying items individually and items sold at a “special price” for most of the year.
One of the “dodgy deals” observed by Which? was by Iceland which ran a “2 for £4” promotion on Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut despite the cereal being sold for £1.49 per pack a week before the sale. Iceland told Which? it would review its promotional calendar incorporating the findings.
Asda ran a promotion on Wall’s Carte D’Or Strawberry Ice Cream (1L) labelled: “was £3.50 now £2”. However, this product was sold at £2 for more of the year than £3.50. The supermarket disagreed with the suggestion that the offer was misleading.
The consumer group said it will report its findings to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
In 2015 Which? Complained about similar misleading practices which prompted the government to issue new guidelines to ensure retailers comply with consumer law.
Which? said their recent investigation shows UK supermarkets are flouting the rules and urged shoppers to be vigilant of supermarket deals.
Misleading promotions can breach the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Both the CMA and Trading Standards can enforce these regulations, and if criminal enforcement action is taken and a criminal prosecution is successful, that could result in a fine.
“Four years on from our super-complaint on misleading pricing practices, many of the big supermarkets are clearly still in the wrong, with numerous examples of dodgy discounts and never-ending offers,” Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said
“These retailers must stop tricking shoppers with deceptive deals and spurious special offers – if not, the CMA must intervene to ensure that pricing guidelines are followed.”
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