LEGAL actions were taken against 130 firms last year for breaches of consumer law, the National Consumer Agency said yesterday.
Most of the actions involved shops failing to display prices. The firms prosecuted included retail giant Tesco, car dealers and small retail outlets.
The majority of breaches related to misleading pricing or a failure to display prices. A wide variety of businesses, from national chains to local independent traders, fell foul of the agency. Most were in the grocery/convenience sector.
Of the 130 actions taken, 85 fixed payment notices were issued to retailers in relation to failure to display prices, which resulted in a penalty payment of €300 in each case.
A further 43 compliance notices were issued requiring retailers to correct misleading price display.
The NCA also initiated a number of prosecutions during the period and secured convictions against Tesco Ireland in September 2011 and a Galway-based car dealer in December 2011 for breaches of the Consumer Protection Act.
The NCA also initiated a prosecution against Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, publisher of the 'Irish Daily Mail'.
The company was found guilty, in January 2012, of four breaches of the Consumer Protection Act. The court did not proceed to conviction and the Probation of Offenders Act was applied.
Head of the NCA Ann Fitzgerald said: "Consumers should be treated fairly and in good faith.
"These enforcement actions are taken as a result of issues that were brought to our attention by consumers and proactive measures taken by the NCA. We would urge all consumers who feel they have been misled or treated unfairly to take action and contact us."
Consumers were encouraged to contact the NCA's helpline on 1890 432 432 if they come across misleading pricing, lack of pricing or any other unfair or misleading activity.