/ Food & Drink, Shopping

We’re writing to supermarkets about misleading pricing tactics

Put an end to misleading pricing

A couple of weeks ago we reported on Convo the result of an inquiry into misleading and unclear pricing in supermarkets. We’d now like to hear from the supermarkets what they’ll do to tackle these problems.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigated after we made a super-complaint on misleading pricing tactics.

Supermarkets now face impending regulation changes, angry customers and potential enforcement action.

Now that the CMA has published its concerns, the supermarkets must tackle the problem head on.

After giving them time to digest the investigation’s findings, we’ve written to the people at the top – the supermarket CEOs – encouraging them to tell us what they will be doing to clean up their act.

We want them to support measures to strengthen the rules on what qualifies as a special offer. Measures that would make special offers more meaningful for you, create a level playing field and drive genuine competition.

This is a clear opportunity for supermarkets to improve their image and win back your trust – and we want them to take it.

The problem that won’t go away

We showed the CMA examples of dodgy multi-buys, shrinking products and exaggerated discounts uncovered over a seven -year period. Many of the examples we gave were from Convo readers.

The CMA found hundreds of potentially misleading prices on the shelves of five supermarkets. It concluded that unit pricing needs to be clearer so shoppers can use it effectively to compare similar products.

And it was concerned too about ‘was/now’ offers where discount prices were used for longer than the original price.

We’ve now called on the supermarkets CEOs to find solutions to dodgy offers and to show they really do understand your frustrations as customers.

With more than 165,000 people now backing our campaign and the CMA considering enforcement action, it’s time for the supermarkets to tell customers what they will do to solve this problem. Let’s hear their plan.


There is little that can be added to what has already been said.
Will these comments do any good?.
I hope the supermarkets will stand up and take notice.
But unless we vote with our feet, I don’t see it making a change.
Even though I agree with all that has been said.

Frances Jones says:
11 August 2015

I am doing just that Mary and so are a lot of my friends. Power to the People!!!!

I am getting increasingly fed up with the manipulation of size/quantity/weight/volume in everyday products in order to hold the headline shelf-price steady but raise the unit price. If this is the way that retailing is going to go then the unit price must become the dominant feature with larger font boldly displayed; the pack price should be subsidiary and in a reduced font.

The major annoyance for me, though, is that they are interfering with the customary or conventional characteristics of the product so that a carton of fruit juice no longer fills five glasses, a packet of biscuits no longer lasts so long, a roll of toilet tissue no longer keeps a puppy entertained, and a pack of dishwasher tabs gives fewer washes. While in the food category this might be beneficial for our waist lines, not all of us need or want such external moderation, in any case there is no altruistic motive here – it’s all about price and sneaky ways of deceiving us.

It is interesting to compare the problem of manipulation of products to conceal price rises with the price of milk, which has decreased to the extent that British farmers are having a great difficulty in making any profit whatsoever. I’ve seen arguments that we should buy our milk in a particular supermarket because it pays the farmer one or two pence more per litre.

Maybe the Fairtrade scheme should be extended to ensure that both producers and consumers are not being exploited by supermarkets.

We all are aware of the various cons that the supermarkets pull so I won’t add to the list. My comment/question is what is the difference between this and the Volkswagen debacle. They are both deliberate cons/fraud on the public; one, at least, must be illegal but what about the other?

Don’t know whether this has been mentioned before but I’ve noticed over a period of time that Morrisons are very guilty of putting products on a shelf which has no resemblence of the price the item really is, the shelf price is always lower than the product that sits on it! Not until you get to the till or home that this may, or may not be noticed, big con!
I have told them about this several times but to no avail.

jane Leonard says:
24 September 2015

The simple way to stop it is a law which makes the shop give the customer twice the cost of the product they were trying to flog buy being misleading

So if beans are 50p. But on Specal offer 2 for £1.10 the shop must give the customer £1 back.

I also think aldis pricing system is confusing and it’s often impossible to see the prices above items due to high stacking. Also tesco often put offer labels with special prices under items that actually have nothing to do with the product listed as being on offer. And when you DO get an offer and product offer match it often doesn’t come off at the till leading to many trips back for the difference. This happens more at tesco express shops.

Michael Williams says:
24 September 2015

Why are some price labels only a couple of inches from the floor, and in four point fonts? One solution is to use your mobile or digital camera – take a telephoto picture, then expand it on the screen to a readale size, òr ask a staff member to grovel on the floor to read the details. Caution – JLP (and some others) are inclined to ask you to leave if they spot you with either device in an operational posture!

I have just experienced a price rise for an offer tactic.
I bought a couple of halogen candle light bulbs from Tesco a few weeks ago for £1.25 each about 4 weeks ago. Needed some more and they were on offer for 3 for the price of 2. Great I thought till they were put through the till at a price of £1.75 each. Ended up saving only £0.25. There is no way a bulb would increase by that much in only a few weeks.
I have receipts to prove this.