It’s been nearly a month since we submitted our super-complaint on supermarket pricing, and we’re still finding more evidence of misleading pricing tactics on supermarket shelves.
You may have seen last month that Which? made a super-complaint (PDF 4.7Mb) to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) about misleading and opaque pricing practices used by supermarkets.
We’re now at Day 29 out of the 90 days the CMA has to formally respond to our concerns and are continuing to unearth more evidence that the problem isn’t just isolated mistakes (as the supermarkets claim).
In a new investigation published today we’ve found yet more examples of misleading offers on the shelves of Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, along with some offers at Boots and Superdrug, that have raised eyebrows in the Which? office.
Not-so special offers
As an example (and not to pick on it particularly), at Asda we found that two litres of Pepsi spent most of the year sold at 98p or £1, except when Asda wanted to put it on offer. It then increased the individual price of a bottle to £1.98 while selling it as part of a deal at ‘2 for £3’.
Asda did this several times during 2014 and early 2015. So, for those of you who bought your Pepsi at Asda on this offer, you saved nothing and were, in fact, £1 worse off.
Products shrinking in size
We also found more evidence of products shrinking in size but not in price. For example, a box of 100 Twinings Assam tea bags was £4.40 in Tesco but, when the pack shrunk to 80, the price increased to £4.49. In Sainsbury’s the price of the tea bags remained the same (£4.50) despite the loss of 20 tea bags.
It’s pricing tactics like these that we’ve spent many years trying to resolve by working with the supermarkets and others. The lack of progress drove us to use our legal powers and compel the CMA to look into the market.
What pricing practices we asked the CMA to look at
Essentially: enough was enough and we asked the CMA to look at misleading and opaque pricing practices such as:
- Confusing and misleading special offers
- A lack of easily comparable prices because of the way unit pricing is being done
- Shrinking pack sizes without a corresponding price reduction.
The CMA announced this week that it will be publishing its response on Monday, 20 July. With just over 60 days to go, we’re still finding problems on the shelves of the major supermarkets. But will the CMA take action? We’ll find out soon enough.
Have you spotted any pricing tactics that really wind you up? And if you agree it’s time to put an end to misleading pricing, please sign our petition and share it with your friends.