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Retailers get new guidance on misleading pricing

Update for retailers after Which? super-complaint

Put an end to misleading pricing

New guidance, aimed at stopping the misleading and confusing pricing tactics used by some retailers, has been published today to help consumers get a fair deal.

The Guidance for Traders on Pricing Practices, by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), replaces the former Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) Pricing Practices Guide.

The publication follows a series of Which? investigations and a subsequent super-complaint on misleading pricing practices in the grocery sector.

We found that retailers were misleading and confusing consumers into purchases by creating the impression of savings that did not actually exist.

While the Competition and Markets Authority didn’t find the practices to be widespread, it did recommend a series of measures to give shoppers greater clarity and confidence that they’re getting a fair deal.

If you think you’ve been duped by a special offer, you can read our guides on what to do if you’ve been misled by supermarket special offers.

Is this the end of misleading pricing practices?

Vickie Sheriff, Director of Campaigns and Communications at Which?, said: ‘We issued our super-complaint in 2015 to ensure that consumers are no longer subjected to misleading pricing practices.

‘It is welcome that businesses now have clearer direction to make sure that their pricing practices comply with consumer law. We now want to see businesses taking immediate action to make sure that their pricing practices live up to the new guidance.

‘Trading standards and the regulator need to closely monitor these changes to ensure they are making a meaningful difference to pricing practices.’

The new guidance provides an overview of consumer protection legislation relating to pricing and associated practices for all traders.

The legislation has not changed and retailers must continue to comply with it, but enforcers are likely to give retailers until April 2017 to adapt to the new guidance. 

Retailers must ensure information is fair

Adrian Simpson, CTSI’s business education and consumer codes expert, said: ‘Consumers lead busy lives, and are subjected to an increasingly wide range of products, product options and sophisticated marketing.

‘But clear, honest and upfront pricing is beneficial to both consumers and businesses.

‘Retailers must ensure the information they present to consumers is fair, and does not waste time or cause annoyance, disappointment or regret. Neither should it cause a consumer to overspend or buy a product that is inappropriate for them.

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