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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.

jennifer butler says:
17 June 2016

Tesco’s price per 100g of Kenco coffee is higher on the refill packs than on the glass jars. I’ve noticed the same on Horlicks refills at Tesco and Morrisons. Is this the supermarket or the brand policy?

I enjoy Rakusen’s Flame Baked Crackers. In one month they have changed the contents from 300g down to 200g. The box appears to be the same until you open the contents. What a con to reduce by a third in one month. I thought I was getting a bargain when the price was reduced from £i.20 to £1.00 until I came to place them into the cracker container. Do they hope we would not notice?

Lenor 1.9 Ltr £2.75 78 washes lenor 1.1 Ltr 44 washes £3.50 guess which one they sent me as a substitute? Yes the most expensive one.
Also I had to ring and complain as the cooked meat(ham) they sent had use by the next day not the 6+days as on the website.

Due to ill health we have our groceries delivered otherwise this would not happen.
Be careful and check and check again before you agree to substitutes.

johnmchiggins says:
26 June 2016

A bunch of crooks.

I stopped shopping at ASDA years ago because of the misleading pricing. I got into the habit of noting all shelf-edge displayed prices then comparing with the till receipt as soon as I had passed through the checkout. On one occasion 80% of the prices charged at the checkout were greater than those displayed.

Our local large Tesco has a bar-code scanner in one of the aisles which is useful for checking the price that will come up at the checkout. I don’t know whether other supermarkets also have this facility.

I hope that leaving the EU will stop all this by getting British products at r.r.p

Tesco (maybe other supermarkets too) advertise special offers but place items which are NOT part of the offer/deal on the same shelf. Unless you always check your receipt at the till, you will not know. Complaints to staff and store managers did not bring the desired result. Keep checking

Leaving the EU ought to mean that in future we can apply British rules to British supermarkets , when travelling around EuropeI have observed that that literally anything goes so far as supermarket in store marketing is concerned .

Anna says:
2 July 2016

Yes enough is enough, let’s hope Brexit will stop these big companies treating us all like idiots.

Pound shops are the baine of my life. Folk think they are getting real bargains whilst they really aren’t. Pricing everything at a pound whilst a lot of the items can be bought cheaper in other languages leading supermarkets. An example. A 2llb bag of sugar in Trescothick costs £0.79 Poundland £1.00, A large bottle of Pepsi Trescothick and Morris ons £0.89 in each store….and so it goes on. Pound shops are both misleading and underhand. I found 100 items from Pond land and another pound shop much cheaper in other supermarkets. Are they are bargain shop now? I don’t think so! My other gripe is the buy one get one or two free….STOP and take another look at the items then price the individual ones, often it’s cheaper to buy the individual priced product. Another example last month Pedigree Chum dog food in Tresco was priced up at 6 cans for £3.00 and 12 tins for £6.25. A bargain, not from were I’m standing. Any leading Supermarket will try this trick. Stop and think again. By visiting three different Supermarkets to do my grocery shop I managed to save £8.51 times that figure by 52 weeks (the amount of weeks in a year) and you’ll be £442.52 better off. I know shopping under one roof in convenient but put in the leg work and you’ll be quids in and.much better off. It’s not all doom and gloom for Poundthough as Nescafè coffee in equal size was £1.00 in Poundland whilst in Tresco it was £2.95. A small bottle of Heinze tomato ketchup Tesco £1.45 Poundland £1.00. Another huge annual saving of £124.80. Let’s add the two examples together…….. we now have a huge annual saving of £567.32 and I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ve managed to take a third off the cost of my shopping by being vigilant comparing prices. Annually I’m saving £3653.00 by being careful and comparing prices of these so called by one get one or two free. Comparing prices is easy as the the giants of our shopping experiencesite are usually very close together near me qg of them are right next to each other the fourth Asia is only a short walk away approx two minutes between them. I guess we could all shop in Lidl’s although they build there stores in the strangest of places miles away from my shopping town area so getting to them is tricky and expensive needing a taxi for me to add on to the cost of my shopping bill. Did I save money by doing so….NO. I have to rely on taxis because I’m blind and disabled now but my eyes have been replaced by scanning and descriptive technology. Nothing can fool a thrifty consumer come on folks let’s get saving savvy. Thanks for reading my comments.

These so called “bargains & multibuys” are both dishonest & disingenuous, I vote with my feet and shop elsewhere when I see these so called bargains

Crissy@mcfc says:
3 July 2016

I have shopped in tescos late on as i fogot to buy imortant items so i have to use self service i decided to check the offers while im there i seen tescos 1 litre brand strawberry and chocolate milk drink usually it costs £1 each i seen it was on offer 2 for £1.20 so i got 4 cartons also i asked the staff if there was any offers on vanish gold for my whites she shown me a tub which was £4 i got one i tilled everything and was told the total comes off at the end by staff and i didnt cjeck my receipt till i got home i was charged full price was tescos strawberry and chocolate milk which is £1 each so paid £4 for the milks abd £7 for the vanish i was amgry because that was £4.60 more than i should of paid. I was going 2 go bk but i dont live near there and its just been left now but put me off shopping there.

Interesting points, Crissy. It just shows you have to check the screen at the end of the checkout with the self-service tills to make sure the discounts have been applied.

Last week I bought some strawberries from Tescoes for £2. Four days later I bought strawberries in Waitrose with a red sticker indicating special offer – also £2. But the Tescoes box weighed 600 grms, the Waitrose box only 400 gms.

Was the strawberry variety and origin the same from each store, Mary? And which had the better taste and flavour? I have never been very satisfied with the strawberries in Tesco, except, on a value-for-money basis, their ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ grade can sometimes be surprisinlgy good to taste if not to look at.

“A leading supermarket sold handwash at £1.80 for just 7 days. Then, they put it on a ‘was £1.80, now 90p’ offer for 12 weeks. Feel like a real saving? We don’t think so.”
My comment refers to the above. If this were so, why can’t you name the leading supermarket?
Surely there can’t be a legal reason.

Pete says:
11 August 2016

You have to do your sums when shopping to calculate whether a deal is real. Often it’s cheaper to buy 2 half sized boxes of washing powder, cereals etc than to buy one full sized box. Luckily I’m good at mental arithmetic – if you’re not you’ll find a calculator on most phones. This practice should be unlawful as usually buying in ‘bulk’ is generally considered to be the cheaper option.

we need a respectful supermarket, one that respected it’s customer and not try to rip them off with special offers which are misleading and make us spend more!

Have given up on supermarkets. I now buy direct from the farmer or company. Am trying to use natural products so instead of washing powder and conditioners full of dodgy stuff, I’m using soapnuts and essential oils. Aerial may be a Which best buy but it causes serious dermatitis for my daughter. Works out at £1 for 48 washes!

Went into only “supermarket” in our village this week – the Co-op – and found packs of 4 yoghurts for £1.50 each or £3 for two. Even as an 80+ year old I do not need to use a calculator to see how much I would save!! Ha! Ha!

Good for you, theoldand grey. Some seem to think once you get past 60 you lose your marbles and your ability to think objectively. What rubbish. I’m sick and tired of hearing how we should make everything over-simplified for all the “elderly” who cannot cope with modern life; I mix with a lot of these elderly nincompoops and I can tell you they all have their faculties in good working order, and are very competent at dealing with “modern life”. It is largely physical decline that reduces their activity somewhat rather than their brains getting full (or empty, whatever).

Yes, but the Co-op is older and feebler than all of us and we should show it some respect as it tries to work out a bargain; I am sure it’s doing its best with these modern yoghurt multi-packs. At least no one was diddled at the checkout – another benefit of advancing years.

The Co-op is known for its…innovative pricing strategies. Some time ago they were offering Yoghurts at £1.30 or two for £3.00.

Yes, Ian, it’s so sad to see a once-agile body go downhill this way; unfortunately I can no longer give it the financial support and practical assistance it needs [the occasional pricing adjustment, the repositioning of shelf labels, and a few calendar alerts from time to time] as it closed my nearest branch and sold it to Aldi. Best thing really, perhaps, in the circs.

Perhaps pricing schemes like this could be utilised in the fight against obesity and sugar laden foods.

Here’s my proposed pricing scheme for 330ml bottles of “sweet flavoured water”:

1 bottle: £1
2 bottles: £4
3 bottles: £9
4 bottles: £16
…and so on.

Good idea. And the excess profits to be put into a fund to support the NHS in 20 years’ time when the consequences emerge.

I’m just fed up with having to shop with a calculator in one hand and having to be a memory man for past prices. It’s just basic dishonesty!

Jace says:
17 October 2016

I now do a lot of grocery shopping at bargain buys. Some items up to 80% cheaper than the major players.
I’m amazed at the profit margins they must have.