From daft special offers to dodgy discounts – does your supermarket send you off your trolley with its pricing tactics? Our latest Which? campaign is calling on the supermarkets to Make Special Offers Special.
I’m new to the Campaigns team at Which?, but over the last couple of weeks, with the help of our special offer guru Alice Rickman, I’ve begun to take the supermarkets to town over the not so special offers we’ve discovered in our latest investigation.
This included a well-known beer brand being sold at a higher price for just three days before being discounted, and an offer that would have been cheaper to buy off the shelf days later than part of the deal.
Eight in 10 of people say they look out for offers in supermarkets, with most saying these deals help them to make the most of their budget. However, three in 10 have regretted buying products that you only bought because they were on offer. And two fifths believe that offers encourage us to buy products we don’t really need. To me, this indicates something is wrong with the way supermarket promotions are affecting our buying habits, and not necessarily in a positive way. What really grates for me though is that some of these special offers don’t even save us money.
There are three ways we can address this issue and the first is quite simply to ask the supermarkets to put an end to misleading special offers. We’ve alerted the key supermarkets that we’re looking for them to take action. We quizzed Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Tesco on our findings and received a mixture of apologies and challenges to our findings.
Secondly, we need the Government to make the rules for special offers simpler, clearer and stricter. We’ll be in close contact with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, to make sure this happen.
Supermarket fined for breaking rules
And thirdly, we need tougher enforcement action to clamp down on rule breaking supermarkets. You may remember the case of the mispriced strawberries reported by Daphne Smallman back in 2011. Well, Tesco was fined when the courts heard that the offer ran for 14 weeks, whereas the higher price was available for a shorter length of time. This was in breach of Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs) and Tesco was found to not be playing by the rules.
Do dubious special offers irritate you when you’re shopping? Have you ever spotted a deal that’s too good to be true? We’d love your help convincing the supermarkets to take action and we’re keen to hear what dodgy discounts you’ve encountered down your supermarket aisle.