Customers misled over bargain sale prices Watchdog warning ahead of Bank Holiday Weekend

23 August 2013

Dodgy sales

Six high street carpet and furniture retailers are being investigated after The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) found they were misleading customers into thinking they were getting a bargain by artificially increasing the original price.

Some shops had a significant number of products where there were no sales at the artificially increased price. 

In all cases, no explanation of how and why these higher prices were established was given.

The OFT’s investigation echo our findings in our furniture sales investigation, where we tracked thousands of prices for seven months.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: 'OFT's warning sends a clear message to carpet and furniture stores that special offers really have to be special. It’s unacceptable that shoppers are misled into thinking they’re getting a good deal when that might not be the case.'

Sales shopping

The OFT investigation comes ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, a busy trading period for home furnishing retailers who often have heavy sales promotions.

The overall average of sales of items at the original reference or higher price was just 5%.

When you shop in a sale, your rights are still protected by the Sale of Goods Act  and the Distance Selling Regulations if you have been shopping online. Find out more about your rights when you shop in a sale

Returning sales items

If a shop is advertising a sale it has to follow government guidelines to ensure it is genuine.

Before reducing prices in a sale, items must have been sold at the higher price for 28 consecutive days in that store immediately before the sale, unless a sale explains the terms of the offer.

The original price must be clearly displayed along with the sale price.

If you buy something that is faulty, regardless of whether you bought it in a sale or not, you have the right to return it under the Sale of Goods Act.  A retailer cannot try to limit your rights in a sale.

More on this…

  • If you buy in an online sale, see your rights under the Distance Selling Regulations
  • Find out the results of our survey into the UK’s high street and online shops
  • Answer all your everyday consumer rights problems on our Consumer Rights site