Supermarkets must act – and quickly – to clean up their misleading pricing tactics after an official investigation found there were hundreds of misleading offers on their shelves every day.
Just under three months ago, we made a super-complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority after identifying examples of dodgy multi-buys, shrinking products and exaggerated discounts over the past seven years.
In response, the CMA has confirmed what our research has highlighted repeatedly. They found a huge number of offers that could be breaching consumer law.
These included supermarkets running ‘was/now’ promotions, where a discount price is advertised for longer than a higher price. It also found that unit pricing needs to be made more legible so you can use it effectively to compare similar products.
It announced a series of measures to crack down on confusing pricing practices. And it recommended that the Government strengthens the rules so that retailers have no more excuses.
The supermarkets have now been put on notice to clean up their practices or face legal action.
No more excuses
With your help and examples of the so-called offers that you found, we submitted a dossier of evidence in the form of the super-complaint (PDF) to the CMA.
This highlighted the issues we’ve repeatedly uncovered on pricing practices in the groceries sector.
We asked the CMA to investigate confusing and misleading special offers; the lack of easily comparable prices because of the way unit pricing is being done; shrinking pack sizes without any corresponding price reduction; and the price matching schemes the supermarkets run.
More than 130,000 of you have supported the super-complaint. We believe that if all the changes are implemented widely, this will be good for consumers, competition and, ultimately, the economy.
Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:
‘Where there is evidence of breaches of consumer law the CMA could take enforcement action against supermarkets. In addition, the CMA also recommends changes to legislation in order to cut out promotional practices that could mislead consumers.
‘Given the findings, we now expect to see urgent enforcement action from the CMA. The Government must also quickly strengthen the rules so that retailers have no more excuses.’
You can sign up here and pledge your support.
What do you think of the CMA’s findings? Are you still seeing examples of special offers that you think are misleading?