23 April 2015
Which? has filed a super-complaint with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), calling for the end of dodgy pricing tactics by retailers.
The UK think tank states it has found evidence of retailers confusing and manipulating consumers by exaggerating discounts, and creating the illusion of savings, which do not in fact exist.
Which? adds that about 40% of groceries (by revenue) in Great Britain are currently sold on promotion. With £115 billion spent on groceries and toiletries in 2013, consumers could be collectively losing out to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds, even if only a very small proportion of offers are misleading.
The pricing practices of concern that Which? identified include: confusing and misleading special offers; a lack of easily comparable prices because of the way unit pricing is being done; and shrinking pack sizes without any corresponding price reduction.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘Despite Which? repeatedly exposing misleading and confusing pricing tactics, and calling for voluntary change by the retailers, these dodgy offers remain on numerous supermarket shelves. Shoppers think they’re getting a bargain but in reality it’s impossible for any consumer to know if they’re genuinely getting a fair deal.’
In response to the super complaint by Which?, the CMA has stated that it will consider and reply within 90 days.
The regulator has said that possible outcomes of the inquiry include: recommending the quality and accessibility of information for consumers is improved; encouraging businesses in the market to self-regulate; making recommendations to government to change the legislation or public policy; taking competition or consumer enforcement action; instigating a market investigation or market study; and a clean bill of health.