/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Our super-complaint on dodgy supermarket pricing practices

Put an end to misleading pricing

From dodgy multi-buys to shrinking products – it’s time to shelve misleading supermarket pricing tactics for good. That’s why we’ve deployed one of our most powerful legal weapons – a super-complaint.

We’ve been alerting retailers to misleading pricing tactics for the last seven years, and yet dodgy offers still remain on supermarket shelves.

Many retailers are creating the illusion of savings that don’t exist, which in turn mislead people into buying products they may not have chosen if they knew the full facts.

Our supermarket pricing super-complaint

Enough is enough. We’re now using one of the most powerful legal weapons in our armoury – a super-complaint – to demand action from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Which? has legal powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to formally raise matters that may be significantly harming consumers’ interests with regulators. It’s a power we only use after a great deal of work to exhaust every other possible route to change businesses practices. The CMA now has 90 days to respond to our super-complaint (PDF 4.7Mb).

Millions lost to dodgy offers

With £115bn spent on groceries and toiletries in 2013, we could be collectively losing out to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds, even if only a very small proportion of offers are misleading. Some of the dodgy pricing practices we’ve raised with the CMA include:

  • Confusing and misleading special offers.
  • A lack of easily comparable prices because of the way unit pricing is being done.
  • Shrinking pack sizes without any corresponding price reduction.

What’s more, we’re concerned about how supermarket price matching works in the context of these dodgy pricing practices.

The cumulative impact of all these different pricing tactics means it’s virtually impossible for you to know whether you’re getting a fair deal. This is particularly true when prices vary frequently, when you’re in a rush or if you’re buying numerous items of relatively low value.

We want an end to misleading pricing tactics and for all retailers to use fair pricing that people can trust. If you agree, please sign our petition. And if you’ve spotted any pricing tactics that really wind you up, share them in the comments below.

Cymru2010 says:
1 June 2015

Another example of shrinking products spotted today.
Andrex 18 roll toilet tissue. I have previously bought 240 sheets per roll for a pack price of £7
Today I see it is now 221 sheets per roll, and priced at £6.84
This makes the pack size 8% smaller and 6% more expensive per 100 sheets.

RobM says:
2 June 2015

Well, ‘wipe’ them off my shopping list then


A new four-pack of Andrex looks considerably smaller when placed alongside an older example because the sheet size has shrunk as well. Is nothing sacred?


‘Reputable companies’ that produce or sell to the general public are likely to become an endangered species soon. Maybe companies deal with other companies more fairly but that does not help the consumer.

Margaret Ross says:
28 August 2015

Underhand of Andrex. I will not buy this brand of toilet paper again. Customers have to be vigilant when buying “special offers”.

john owen jones says:
6 June 2015

Sainsburys. Its only trivial but they keep doing it. Own brand toilet paper 9 pack offer £3 18 pack £6.50. Tnen its back to £3.50 for 9 for a while.


Sorry John but your comment doesn’t make any sense

Sue Patterson says:
9 June 2015

Lucozade orange (one litre) for £1.00 a bottle in my co op, but in the chilled fridge (people buying quick snacks, lunch sandwich meal deals etc and particularly school children at dinner time where I live; special deal label says one 500 ml bottle of lucozade for £1.25 OR 2 bottles for £2. Just do the maths!

It’s not just ripping us off on handy size bottles but also the school kids easy targets for chugging 1L of high glucose drink for a quid before going back into school for the afternoon. Does Co-op care?

Laura says:
11 June 2015

Today I bought a 500ml bottle of Dove bath creme from Tesco in Gatwick, advertised at half price for £1.64 (was £3.29), but when I checked my receipt after I had left I noticed that I had been charged £3.90 for it! Even more than the supposed original price!

It is really infuriating to be mislead by false advertising this way! (And yes, I did double check that I had picked up the correct size relating to the offer)

Deborah says:
14 July 2015

On two occasions that I can recall, I have bought something that was supposedly on offer, only to find at the self-service that I didn’t get the discount. I had previously believed this to be an error on my part, but it appears from the magnitude of complaints in this section, that this is an ongoing issue. If I buy something for a discount, then that should be reflected in my receipt. Most of the time it is, but those two occasions were irritating. It has happened to me in Primark, when I had to pay a higher price because someone had slapped a discount sticker onto a piece of clothing (or two, actually) that hadn’t been registered with their till. I then looked foolish and a little suspicious in pointing to the discount sticker. Retail stores should get themselves in order.

Lou Denney says:
14 July 2015

I will not buy multiples as the price for one has usually been raised to make it more attractive to buy two. Most of my shopping is now done in Aldi, where they have no multi-buys, pricing is simple and transparent, the goods are of far better quality than other own brands, no reward cards, more staff who are better paid – you get my drift.
The few things I have to buy at other places, I find I have to examine prices in case it’s cheaper to buy two small ones than one big one or some such other rip-off

Gerry says:
14 July 2015

Exactly – that’s why Aldi have recently overtaken the mega-expensive Waitrose.

The big supermarkets hate single people, hitting them with horrendous surcharges for single items and excluding them from ‘Save £5 when you spend £40’ or whatever.

Yo-yo pricing is also endemic – the most brazen example must be Pimms No.1. The big boys sell it at £21 at the start of the year when it’s cold and dark simply so that they can slash the price with fake special offers in the summer. The ‘real’ price is less than half of that – Morrisons have it at £10 right now.

All power to Aldi & Lidl ! Their brands may be unknown, but they’re just as good, especially their tomato soup and tomato ketchup which are every bit as good as Heinz but vastly cheaper.

Margaret Ross says:
28 August 2015

I wish that I could shop in an Aldi store. In Stonehaven we have four Co-ops, all expensive with no option to shop elsewhere.