Supermarkets are STILL tricking shoppers with bogus offers
Supermarkets are STILL tricking shoppers with bogus offers as watchdog finds ‘deals’ at leading retailers aren’t what they seem
- Consumer group Which? examined 450 products from major supermarkets
- Iceland sold Kellogg’s cereal at ‘two for £4’ available for £1.49 the week before
- Tesco was fined £300,000 in 2013 after selling strawberries at ‘half price’
Supermarkets are still fooling shoppers with bogus discounts years after being ordered to stop, an investigation has found.
Consumer group Which? examined 450 products from major supermarkets, and found ‘deals’ weren’t always what they seemed.
Some offers encouraged shoppers to buy in bulk by giving the impression this provided better value – even though it was cheaper to buy products individually.
Other examples saw stores using dubious benchmark prices to make savings seem more generous. Some ‘special offer’ prices were simply what was charged for most of the year.
Supermarkets are still fooling shoppers with bogus discounts years after being ordered to stop, an investigation has found
In one case, Iceland sold packs of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut at ‘two for £4’ – but the cereal had been available for £1.49 the week before.
Another promotion saw Asda claim a carton of Carte D’Or ice cream ‘was £3.50, now £2’. In fact, it was sold at £2 for more weeks of the year than £3.50. Similarly, Morrisons sold packs of Cathedral City cheddar, boasting ‘was £3.50, now £2’. The cheese had actually been priced at £2 the week before.
The scandal shows no sign of stopping, despite Which? making a ‘super-complaint’ about the practice four years ago. Lodged by consumer groups such as Which?, these require the Competition and Markets Authority to respond within 90 days.
The super-complaint in 2015 prompted official guidance from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute to ensure supermarket prices complied with consumer law.
However, Which? says its analysis – covering Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose – shows stores are continuing to flout the law. It has reported its latest findings to the CMA, which it hopes will take further action.
Another promotion saw Asda claim a carton of Carte D’Or ice cream ‘was £3.50, now £2’. Similarly, Morrisons sold packs of Cathedral City cheddar, boasting ‘was £3.50, now £2’
Current rules state that shops must ensure the information they present to consumers ‘is fair and does not waste time or cause annoyance, disappointment or regret’.
Stores are also banned from setting prices which ’cause a consumer to overspend or buy a product that is inappropriate for them’.
Responsibility for enforcing these rules falls to councils’ trading standards departments – but these have been ravaged by cuts, and often do not have the resources to bring legal action.
In one case, Iceland sold packs of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut at ‘two for £4’ – but the cereal had been available for £1.49 the week before
However, there is good evidence to show that when councils do take action, the courts take the issue seriously.
Tesco was fined £300,000 in 2013 after it admitted selling punnets of strawberries at a ‘half-price’ figure of £1.99, despite having only sold them at £3.99 for just seven days. The ‘half-price’ deal ran for 14 weeks.
Natalie Hitchins, of Which?, said: ‘Four years on from our super-complaint, many of the big supermarkets are clearly still in the wrong, with numerous examples of dodgy discounts and never-ending offers. These retailers must stop tricking shoppers with deceptive deals and spurious special offers. If not, the CMA must intervene.’
Tom Ironside, of the British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets, said: ‘[These stores] seek to provide the best value for consumers on the hundreds of thousands of product lines they sell.
‘This is often through promotions and discounts, which can change week to week, even on the same product lines, as retailers seek to cut the cost for shoppers.’
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