Over 100,000 support Which? super-complaintDecision due on supermarket price tactics

12 July 2015

Misleading supermarket tactics

Which? has lodged a super-complaint about misleading supermarket price tactics

More than 100,000 consumers have pledged their support for Which?’s super-complaint against supermarket price tactics.

We believe retailers are baffling shoppers with a range of confusing pricing tactics, so we used our powers to lodge a super-complaint with the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) in April 2015. The deadline for the CMA to respond by is the 19th July.

To pledge your support for fairer pricing tactics, sign up to our campaign here.

Which? calls for clampdown on misleading pricing tactics

For the past seven years, Which? has consistently identified a range of misleading and confusing pricing tactics used in supermarkets. These include dodgy multi-buys, shrinking products, exaggerated discounts and inconsistent unit pricing.

Examples of this include:

  • Asda increased the price of Robinsons Orange Fruit Squash (1 litre) from £1 to as much as £1.59 while on ‘2 for £2.50’, creating the illusion of a saving but actually costing shoppers 50p more when buying it on offer.
  • A box of 100 Twinings Assam tea bags was £4.40 in Tesco but when the pack shrunk to 80, the price increased costing £4.49. In Sainsbury’s the price of the tea bags remained the same (£4.50) despite the loss of 20 tea bags.*

And research has shown these tactics aren't working for consumers. Seven in 10 consumers (69%) said that they sometimes find it difficult to work out whether an offer is a good deal or not. That's against the backdrop that around 40% of groceries (by revenue) are sold on promotion.

Despite regularly raising the issue of unfair pricing tactics, we found that little changed to improve the situation, which is why we decided to raise a super-complaint.

CMA decision due on Which? super-complaint

A decision on the Which? super-complaint into misleading supermarket price tactics is due on or before the 19th July, as the CMA will have had 90 days to consider a verdict.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said:

'Supermarkets have been using smoke and mirrors for years to manipulate consumers' spending and create the illusion of savings that don’t exist. When the regulator reports back, we expect it to listen to the tens of thousands of people who have backed our super-complaint and put an end to misleading pricing practices.'

We will report on the verdict on the 19th July, and hope to see action taken by the CMA to bring the supermarkets to account and ensure consumers can easily compare prices to get the best deal.

*   We used data from independent shopping website mysupermarket.co.uk to find examples of pricing practices used by retailers.

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