Top stores face legal threat over misleading price claims
Published 05/12/2011 | 05:00
FOUR of the UK's biggest supermarkets could face prosecution over misleading pricing practices, a consumer law expert has warned.
In a report on supermarket price wars for BBC1's 'Panorama' programme, Deborah Parry said many of the pricing tactics used by Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons could potentially be illegal.
In the programme, 'Panorama' reporter Sophie Raworth takes a trip around the big four supermarkets near her home and finds mistakes and misleading claims in all of them.
She found 17 items presented as 'bigger pack, better value' which were in fact worse value. Five were in Tesco, five in Sainsbury's, four in Asda and three in Morrisons.
The supermarkets said they display unit prices so shoppers can compare but admitted when smaller packs are on promotion they may sometimes be cheaper.
Ms Parry said: "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."
A survey of 1,546 shoppers carried out for the programme revealed 42pc of shoppers don't trust supermarket offers and discounts; 31pc said they were less likely to trust them now than in the past; and 47pc said they had felt misled by offers.
All four of the big supermarkets deny misleading or deceiving customers.
They say they work hard to keep prices down and point to recent research from the Office for National Statistics which attributed last month's fall in inflation in part to supermarket promotional campaigns.