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Supermarkets continuing to mislead customers


Supermarkets have been found to be continuing to mislead customers with multi-buy offers and discounts, despite the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) previously raising concerns about such issues.

As a result of the OFT’s concerns, eight major supermarkets subscribed to a set of rules to encourage the fair use of discounts. However, consumer group Which?, has claimed that these rules are being broken in some cases, whilst the set of rules are not clear enough.

The consumer group has claimed that some multi-buy offers being sold by supermarkets actually cost more than a set of individual items had previously cost before the offer was made available, whilst other “discount” offers were found to be offering the lower price for a longer period of time than the higher price, thus making the lower price the normal price.

Additionally, some chains were found to be using the “yo-yo” pricing technique by offering a product at an inflated price in low volumes at selected stores, before rolling out at all stores at a lower “discounted” price. The stores would then offer the product at a “reduced price,” for example claiming a product has been reduced from £1.50 to £1, even though the product has never been offered at the increased price in each store.

Other misleading issues uncovered by Which? include claiming a products price has been reduced, but not mentioning the reason the price has been reduced is only because the size of the product has shrunk.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, commented that the findings have come at a bad time for consumers by stating "We've found dodgy discounts across the aisles, and with rising food prices hitting shoppers' budgets hard we think supermarkets are not playing fair." He further went on to say, "the stores have had long enough to sort their act out, so we're saying enough is enough."

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