Following our super-complaint to the regulator on misleading pricing, our research reveals more examples of the pricing tactics retailers use to create the illusion of savings that don't exist. Special offers are big business: two-thirds of shoppers say they’d bought grocery items on a discount offer in the past month, while six in 10 had bought items on multibuy.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:
'Retailers are continuing to pull the wool over shoppers’ eyes with dodgy discounts that just don’t stack up. Our super-complaint has the backing of tens of thousands of concerned shoppers and is calling on the regulator to take action to put an end to misleading pricing practices.'
We found examples where products are on offer longer than they were sold at the higher price. This makes it look like you’re getting a discount, when actually the lower ‘discount’ price is probably a more accurate reflection of the value of the product. We believe tactics like these are potentially breaking government guidelines on special offers.
For example, in Morrisons, a 2 litre bottle of Pepsi Max was on a '£1, was £1.98' special offer for 63 days, after being on sale at the higher price for only 28 days.
We also found multibuy offers which didn’t save customers any money or, in some cases ended up costing more.
For example, 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.
We saw more evidence of shrinking products, another sneaky way of increasing prices.
For example, a box of 100 Twinings Assam tea bags was £4.40 in Tesco but when the pack shrunk to 80, the price increased to £4.49. In Sainsbury’s the price of the tea bags remained the same (£4.50) despite the loss of 20 tea bags.