Supermarket giant Tesco has been fined thousands of pounds for misleading shoppers about the cost of its wine.
The chain was convicted of two counts of giving misleading price indications, and asked for a further 15 offences to be taken into consideration.
Liskeard Magistrates’ Court, in Cornwall, heard how a trading standards officer found signs at stores in Truro and St Austell which falsely claimed it was cheaper to buy a case of wine than six individual bottles.
The promotional signs stated: ‘Case deal. Always cheaper than six single bottles’ and: ‘Six for less’. However, for four wine brands, it was more expensive to buy a case. These lines have since been withdrawn from sale.
Magistrates fined Tesco GBP 2,300 for each count and ordered the company to pay almost GBP 4,000 in costs.
Tesco should be capable of getting prices right
Cornwall’s trading standards department brought the prosecution. Its head, Dave Phillips, said: ‘A company like Tesco, with its sophisticated IT and checking systems, should be capable of getting its prices right.
‘The magistrates have given their judgment and this particular matter is now closed. However, we will be working with colleagues in Hertfordshire, who interface with Tesco’s head office on behalf of all trading standards authorities, to ensure that a similar lack of control doesn’t happen again.’
A Tesco spokesman said: ‘We reduce prices on thousands of products each week to ensure the best value for our customers. Unfortunately, on this occasion we didn’t adjust the case price to reflect the new lower single bottle price.
‘We have reviewed our process and re-briefed staff to make sure this doesn’t happen again.’
Earlier this year, we caught Tesco advertising bottles of Wynns Michael Shiraz on its website for GBP 9.75 each, but trying to charge customers double after they’d already ordered it at that price and received an order confirmation.
The company’s small print says that if it has ‘underpriced’ an item by mistake, it can change the price as long as it informs customers before delivery. Although our lawyers concluded Tesco’s terms were legal, we told it that its order ‘confirmation’ was misleading if it wasn’t really a confirmation of the price.