Supermarkets could face prosecution over misleading prices

coins in trolley

Four of the UK's biggest supermarkets could be prosecuted for misleading pricing practices.

Following an investigation into the supermarket price wars by the BBC's Panorama programme, consumer law expert Deborah Parry has warned that the price tactics used by Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons could potentially be illegal.

Worse value

The Panorama investigation found that all four supermarkets were making misleading claims such as 'bigger pack, better value' offers that were in fact worse value.

"It is not just the occasional mishap here. There are repeated examples with many, many products in different locations with different supermarkets and all of them seem to be doing the same thing. So there is a potential for prosecutions to be brought against all of them," says Parry.

Last December, the Office of Fair Trading issued a warning to supermarkets to stop using misleading pricing practices, or face 'enforcement action'.

All four of the big supermarkets have denied any wrongdoing, saying they are simply working hard to keep prices down. They point to research from the Office for National Statistics that puts last month's fall in inflation partly down to the supermarkets' promotional campaigns as evidence they are reducing costs for customers.

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Your Comments

One month's figures hardly constitutes a trend as a contribution to the long term reduction in inflation.

How do these pricing labels appear on shelves.?I have dismissed the possibility of a nationwide network  of disgruntled employees  placing misleading labels on supermarket shelves.Although the number of times that these companies have given the wide eyed response that errors have been made and when they are pointed out ,they will withdraw them gives me to wonder whether they employ "mathematically challenged employees" .

Is it stretching the bounds of credibility and decency to suggest that perhaps as a part of their pricing strategies these companies have staff working on developing and employing these techniques ,using the psychology of consumer behaviour.Some thought has gone into those labels which would suggest that perhaps this is intentional corporate behaviour