In response to a Which? super-complaint, the CMA has today announced a series of measures to crack down on confusing supermarket pricing practices.
Dodgy multi-buys, shrinking products, exaggerated discounts - we’ve identified examples of each of these misleading supermarket promotions over the past seven years. With very little improvement made by the supermarkets, we used our special legal powers to lodge a super-complaint with the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA).
Today the CMA responded to our super-complaint and its 130,000 supporters.
In its investigation the CMA found examples of promotional practices that have the potential to mislead consumers. These include supermarkets running "was/now" promotions where the discounted price is advertised longer than the higher price. The CMA also uncovered what could be hundreds of promotions a day on the supermarket shelves in breach of consumer law. Now they need to take enforcement action and put a stop to these practices.
Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:
'The CMA’s report confirms what our research over many years has repeatedly highlighted: there are hundreds of misleading offers on the shelves every day that do not comply with the rules. This puts supermarkets on notice to clean up their pricing practices or face legal action.'
Where there is evidence of breaches of consumer law the CMA could take enforcement action against supermarkets. In addition, the CMA also recommends changes to legislation in order to cut out promotional practices that could mislead consumers.
Richard Lloyd added:
'Given the findings, we now expect to see urgent enforcement action from the CMA. The Government must also quickly strengthen the rules so that retailers have no more excuses.'
If all the changes from the recommended as a result of the super-complaint are implemented widely, this will be good news for consumers, competition and ultimately the economy.
We now need your help to maintain the pressure on the CMA so they take action and the Government strengthens the rules.
Retailers are confusing consumers with tactics that exaggerate discounts and manipulate shoppers, so we're using our legal powers to take the issue to the regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
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.
'We’re saying enough is enough and using one of the most powerful legal weapons in our armoury to act on behalf of consumers by launching a super-complaint to the regulator. We want an end to misleading pricing tactics and for all retailers to use fair pricing that people can trust.'
From dodgy multi-buys to baffling sales offers, many retailers are creating the illusion of savings that don’t exist. These tactics manipulate consumer spending by misleading people into choosing products they may not have picked if they knew the full facts.
Which? has repeatedly raised the issue of unfair and misleading pricing tactics in the grocery sector but little has changed. So we're using our legal powers to act on your behalf, submitting a 'super-complaint' to the CMA.