Supermarket super-complaint: Which? demands action on “misleading” pricing

Consumer magazine hits out at “confusing” price structures

Supermarkets’ bottom lines are currently being challenged on every front. If they’re not facing dwindling market share, then they are fighting to bring in customers with cheaper goods.

Meanwhile, suppliers complain that the resultant price war is decimating their businesses. Yesterday it was reported that one study found a 94% jump in the number of food and drink manufacturers in financial distress.

As the supermarkets battle it out, consumer watchdog Which? has exposed some of the dirty tactics the grocers are using to sell their wares.

Which? is particularly concerned about “special offers” in supermarkets – an issue they have drawn attention to repeatedly in the past. But they say “these dodgy offers” have stubbornly remained on shelves.

Super-complaint

The group has launched a “super-complaint”, over the issue. This is a legal move meaning that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has 90 days to respond.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Shoppers think they’re getting a bargain, but in reality, it’s impossible for any consumer to know if they’re genuinely getting a fair deal.

“We’re saying enough is enough and using one of the most powerful legal weapons in our armoury to act on behalf of consumers by launching a super-complaint to the regulator.

“We want an end to misleading pricing tactics and for all retailers to use fair pricing that people can trust.”

Opposition

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has rejected the complaint. BRC director of business and regulation Tom Ironside said: “The examples set out are very specific in nature and are not in any way indicative of broader systemic problems across the retail industry.”

“With thousands of products and special offers in store every day, errors may from time to time occur. However, these are rare in nature and are resolved quickly by the retailer concerned.”

Nonetheless, he said the consortium would “examine closely the content of this super-complaint”, the BBC reports.

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