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Win! CMA takes Asda to task on dodgy special offers

special offers

Is the end in sight for misleading supermarket offers? Today the CMA has announced that it has called on supermarkets to review promotional pricing practices.

You may well recall that last April we made a super-complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on issues we have seen for many years – supermarkets using dodgy and misleading pricing tactics.

The CMA has since embarked on a further investigation into pricing tactics, and in a huge win for our campaign, the regulator has announced today that it’s taken Asda to task and secured a formal legal commitment that the supermarket will change its pricing practices.

Asda has been found breaking the rules and now must immediately clean up their act by August.

Dodgy special offers

With your help, we’ve been drawing attention to these misleading pricing tactics used by supermarkets for the last eight years. Asda has come up many times in our investigations, and you also told us about dodgy offers you’ve spotted.

In 2011, Asda started cropping up in our investigations and we exposed such tactics as products being on offer longer than they are at their so-called “real” price, and multi-buys that don’t add up to savings.

For example in our investigation in June 2015 we found Hovis Medium Sliced Soft White Bread (800g) was being sold at £1 (‘was £1.20’) in Asda, even though the price before the offer started was £1, and the product hadn’t been sold at £1.20 for 116 days.

Next steps

It’s not over yet, the battle continues for our campaign as we still fight to end downright dodgy offers and misleading pricing tactics with other retailers.

This problem is one that extends further than supermarkets. Our super-complaint and actions taken by the authorities should serve as a clear warning to all retailers. If they try to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes they will not get away with it. Retailers must get their house in order.

So have you seen a dodgy deal or misleading pricing tactic in another sector? We know about problems with electrical retailers, furniture stores and holiday/flight pricing – tell us if you’ve spotted any others that are breaking the rules.

Notnman says:
21 October 2016

We should take notice of anything labelled BOGOF – buy one, get one free

Regarding BOGOFFS I think that normally they’re ok providing hey don’t have a short shelf life but…I have noticed over the years that a few products which can be difficult to finish perfectly and can have a high reject rate are maybe used in these offers. Two examples i’ve had a few times have been runny marmalade (notoriously difficult to get right due fluctuating levels of pectin in the fruit) and those thin cheese crackers which are overdone but still edible – I imagine these are a nightmare to keep consistent.
I’m not blaming the retailer but I can imagine the producer putting aside say a morning’s production if it’s borderline, ready for the next bogoff which, I understand, is down to them entirely.
I ‘ve never had problems like this outside of bogoff….

Fresh sausage rolls at Watrose today. £2.00 each or two for £3.00. That’s overpricing for one not discounting for two. It’s discriminatory on age and gender grounds – people living alone are more likely to be older and female.

Just shopped in my local Tesco Superstore, bought a product at £2 (advertised) charged£2.50 this has happened on a number of occasions complained at my local store they seem to be blasie about it and don’t normally rectify the problem that day Reported to the local trading standards and they are going to follow it up, also reported it to Tesco head office and all they said they will speak to the duty manager. Most people don’t always look at there receipt and if Tesco do this on a regular basis they are making hundreds of pounds extra, misleading people.

I shopped in my local Morrisons today – I was drawn to a prominent end-of-aisle, pallet-sized container of multipack 24 variety bags of Walkers crisps and multipack 24 bags of Quavers. Side of bin said had said £3, and this had been overlaid by at least 4 POS A4 printed price markers stating that the Quavers and the 24 variety pack of crisps were now £2.50. Above the bin, there was a huge A3 sign saying £2.50. Of course, when I went through the checkout, the multipack crisps went through at £3. I pointed this out to a senior manager in the store. He looked at the signage – agreed with me, saying “yes, that’s priced at £2.50”. Within a few minutes, he had quickly removed the 4 POS signs, and the huge £2.50 above the pallet container!

I took this issue up with him again, saying this had been very misleading; he had agreed with me originally, and the item for me was indeed reduced to £2.50 – but my point is: “How many customers earlier today, and earlier this week, had been overcharged?” I asked for some sort of goodwill gesture, for pointing out this blatant error, but he flatly refused!

Interesting story, Mark. I presume the proper price for this promotion was £3 a unit which is what registered at the checkout. It might be argued that previous customers were not ‘over-charged’ [although legally they were] but they were certainly deceived and might have only bought packets because of the apparent discount. They could take them back if unopened and get back what they paid for them, I suppose, but it just shows how vigilant we have to be.

Morrisons have become much ‘tighter’ latterly as their performance against the other supermarkets has stuttered so I am not surprised no goodwill gesture was proffered to you. He probably knew you’d be back next week anyway.

Phillip Lamb says:
12 December 2016

Last week Currys added £100 pound onto their price for SAMSUNG AddWash WW90K7615OX Washing Machine – Graphite
Product code: 157462 which is
£90 above samsungs rrp. Of £809
Then at weekend gave a 10% discount as if they were giving a deal. Hope no one buys as should be taken to task.

I have been caught out several times in Morrisons with their pricing. This morning, over the display of flowers, there was a huge sign that said all £3 bunches of flowers, 2 for £5.00. I spoke to the customer services lady, who did a price check and the two bunches that I had chosen did not reduce to £5.00. She then said that the offer only applied if there was a sticker on the bunch saying 2 for £5.00 (not what the notice said). Although she checked with me, there were none that had that sticker. The lady in charge of flowers then turned up and said that the discount would be applied at the till. No, we had already tried that. This is a typical incident at Morrisons.

Michael Smith says:
28 April 2017

I have just received a discount vouncher from Debenhams, offering 5% off purchase made next month. There are certain exclusions, shown in extremely small print on the reverse:

Beauty products
Men’s formal suits
Men’s toiletries
Baker by Ted Baker
Call it Spring
Kids’ Levi
Silver Light
Route 66
Just Sheepskin
Activity Superstore
Financial services
Gift vouchers
Food services
Consumer electronics
Gift cards
Personalised wedding stationery
Debenhams plus.com, flowers.com, curtains.com, tailored suits.com, box office.com

They tell the customer that ‘other departments and concessions and brands may also be excluded’. One can only wonder if anything IS available at a 5% discoun:. I shall keep away.

Michael Smith
Member no. P340904703
(See my photo in your December issue)