Big stores misleading consumers on discounts

Sainsbury's said the three items singled out by Which? were exceptions. Picture: Getty
Sainsbury's said the three items singled out by Which? were exceptions. Picture: Getty
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SUPERMARKETS are still selling products which offer misleading discounts, despite a UK government crackdown on the practice last year.

Consumer group Which? has launched a campaign against “dodgy discounts” and “misleading multibuys” as an investigation found that more than one in ten products in a range of supermarkets had been on a discount offer for longer than at the previous higher price.

In November last year, the government launched new guidance to stop supermarkets from offering confusing multibuy deals and discounts. But in an analysis of 70,000 products, Which? found that supermarkets are still using special offers which make it look like the shopper is getting a bargain when in fact, they are not.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “We’ve found dodgy discounts across the aisles, and with rising food prices hitting shoppers’ budgets hard, we think supermarkets are not playing fair. The stores have had long enough to sort their act out, so we’re saying enough is enough, it’s time to make ‘Special Offers’ special.”

The government guidance says special offers should not be misleading, and any higher price referred to should be a genuine price. Products also should not be on offer for longer than they are at the higher price.

Asda increased the regular price of Uncle Ben’s rice from £1 to £1.58 as it went onto a “Two for £3” multibuy, then returned it to £1 – meaning it had been more expensive when it was on offer than when it was not.

Sainsbury’s sold Carex Aloe Vera & Eucalyptus Moisturising Antibacterial Handwash (250ml) at a higher price of £1.80 for seven days, and then on offer at “was £1.80 now 90p” for 84 days.

A spokesman for Asda said: “We take pricing seriously and recently employed a new team that looks at all aspects of our pricing process.” Sainsbury’s said the three items singled out by Which? were exceptions.