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Argos warned over increasing prices to cover ‘free’ add-ons

Which? has also spotted dodgy and misleading offers from other retailers

Argos warned over increasing prices to cover ‘free’ add-ons

Argos has been warned by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) over putting up prices to cover ‘free’ add-ons. This comes after the ASA found Argos had increased the cost of a camera to include an extra SD card and case.

The advert for the camera ‘misleadingly’ claimed the £179.99 Canon Powershot SX620 camera came with a ‘free’ SD card and case when the price had been inflated to include this cost, the ASA said.

A customer saw the same camera was offered for sale on its own at £159.99 on the Argos website and complained to the watchdog.

Argos said the camera was first sold for £249.99 and later as part of a bundle with additional free items at £199.99. But the single camera was put into clearance at the same time before the bundle price dropped further to £179.99.

The retailer said that when the solo camera was put into clearance, its price was ‘aggressively slashed’, but agreed that this could be confusing for customers who saw the bundle and single camera priced differently.

Misleading prices

In response to the complaint, the ASA said: ‘Overall, we considered that consumers were likely to understand that the package price had been inflated to include the price of the SD card and case. We considered that it was misleading to describe those elements of the bundle as ‘free’ and concluded that the ad breached the Code.

‘We told Argos not to describe an element of a package as “free” if that element was included in the package price, unless consumers were likely to regard it as an additional benefit because it had recently been added to the package without increasing its price.’

An Argos spokesperson said: ‘We’re sorry for any confusion this may have caused and have processes in place to prevent this from happening in future.’

Dodgy offers

In our recent research on Black Friday, we found that many retailers were increasing pricing before their sales in order to make their promotions looking more tempting.

For exampl,e we saw dramatic price hikes on Dyson stick vacuums in the run up to Black Friday, and Littlewoods was selling the Dyson V6 Animal for £499 – more than it has ever cost before, even when it was new out on the market.

When we tracked the price of the products sold in 2016’s Black Friday deals across a whole year, we found that 60% of Black Friday deal items we looked at were available for the same price or cheaper at another time of year.

end of aisle special offers in a uk tesco supermarket

It’s not just general retailers either, when we looked at supermarket special offers between August 2016 and September 2017, we also found that shoppers were being duped by a variety of offers.

Our research revealed items that cost more when they were part of a multibuy, products that were on special offer more than they weren’t, and others claimed to be sold at a price they hadn’t been sold at for a long time.

For instance, the Gillette Satin Care Shaving Gel Sensitive (200ml) was on offer at Morrisons for £2.91 or ‘2 for £5’, despite the fact that it only cost £2 the day before the offer began, according to data from independent shopping website MySupermarket.

Take a look at our guide to the best and worst high street shops, as voted for by thousands of shoppers to find out the best places to shop from 100 different retailers.

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