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Putting an End to Misleading Prices Guest Post by Which?

Regular followers of this blog will know that I bang on about supermarkets a lot! See my many posts and communications with Tesco, last and current CEOs in History with Tesco, commenting on the radio about supermarket figures  and researching, writing and speaking about supermarkets most annoying habits in the media. In the latter, many complaints were about pricing. So I asked Which? to provide an update on their super complaint.

Putting an End to Misleading Prices 

Pete Moorey, Head of Campaigns at Which?
Pete Moorey, Head of Campaigns at Which?

For the past eight years Which? has time and time again found misleading pricing practices being used by supermarkets.

With £115bn spent on groceries and toiletries in 2013 alone, and 40% of groceries (by revenue) currently sold on promotion, dodgy deals could be costing British consumers hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

After raising the issue with industry only to receive a lack-lustre response we decided enough was enough and made use of our super-complaint powers.

The power to make a super-complaint is only held by a handful of organisations. Its purpose is to allow bodies to submit a complaint on any feature, or combination of features, of a market in the UK for goods or services which are, or appears to be significantly harming the interests of consumers.

Which? submitted a super-complaint on supermarket misleading pricing practices to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in April 2015. The complaint relayed our findings, evidence and concerns about the shrinking products, misleading special offers and dodgy multibuys offer we had found lining supermarket shelves across the UK.

On the submission of the super-complaint the CMA had 90 days to respond and make any recommendations if they believed there was a problem.

During those 90 days we were overwhelmed by the response of consumers. Many got in touch to tell us about the dodgy deals they had experienced whilst doing their shopping and 200,000 people signed our petition (you can still sign and support) to put an end to the misleading pricing practices.

But of course, whilst consumers were fed up with the dodgy deals and were making their voice heard, the outcome hung on the CMA. After weighing up the evidence, and finding hundreds of dodgy offers themselves, the CMA’s responded saying that there is a problem and that it did needs solving, a real win for consumers.

In a move which sent a strong message to supermarkets, the CMA announced a raft of positive recommendations to deal with several of the issues we had found.

In a nutshell these recommendations look to strengthen the guidelines around special offers, make unit pricing clearer so consumers can make informed decisions and tighten the pricing rules in general.

Several of these recommendations need to be implemented by Government who have since come out in support of the findings.

Consumer Minister Nick Boles welcomed the findings saying:
‘Shoppers need to be able to get the best deal and make comparisons easily so we will look at how we can make information on price as clear and as simple as possible.’

This is real progress, but Which? will be keeping a close eye to ensure tangible and positive changes are delivered by government and the CMA meaning consumers know when a deal is genuinely a good one.

For more information on our campaign to Put an End to Misleading Pricing visit the Which? website page.

By Pete Moorey, Head of Campaigns at Which?

If you have a complaint about misleading pricing in a supermarket see this advice by Which?

More on complaints about supermarket tactics to make us spend more here:

Radio 5live Breakfast Helen Dewdney talking supermarket tactics to make you buy more


How To Be Beaten By Power Rangers

Blimey. I was on the telly! I got a ‘phone call on the morning of the 16th November. By that evening I was in a Holiday Inn in MediaCity Salford.

BBC Breakfast television contacted me. I’m on the BBC database from appearing on radio 5. Hope it wasn’t the BBC Crimewatch database! Maybe they saw this post! Apparently some survey was out saying that when people receive poor service they walk out. I hope public money didn’t pay for that survey! BBC sent a cab to get me to Euston. I have no sense of direction but even I knew he was going round a car park at one point! 4 u turns and a car park later I got to Euston, picked up the ticket, ran to the train, train chappie let me get on shut the door behind me and the train moved. That was lucky! Train was full of drunks, the rugby had been on or something. The cab driver wasn’t there to pick me up at Manchester and I had to telephone the BBC. Incidentally, it was very cold you know.

I woz
I woz ‘ere MediaCity

Going back was nearly as bad. Tell me, if you stayed at a Holiday Inn and there were taxis coming and going outside you would think your taxi would come to the doors too wouldn’t you? Apparently not, after 15 minutes of waiting I telephoned the BBC and said my cab had not arrived. Apparently the cab firm had ‘phoned me twice (they hadn’t). But get this, the cabs wait two minutes round the corner behind the building not even next to it! Give the cabbie his due, he put his foot down and I ran for the train, and again, just got it.

Now, think I should be letting the BBC know that Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 they are not getting services of a reasonable standard and should get some money back? Well it’s ours after all!

snap 4
Hair and make up by BBC. Result!

So after not sleeping at all, not being able to open the fridge (was very technical!) and not bringing shampoo, (fool) I was in the BBC make up room. Fabulous darling. Then chatted to Phil Barton the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign CEO. Interesting experiment  – “Which Side of the Fence nationwide social experiments” not cleaning one side of the street for 24 hours. Quite disgusting have a look at the Facebook page. Glad I had someone to talk to inbetween slots who was interesting!  Maconalds and other burger chains, clean up your act!

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow BBC Breakfast TV Discusses How We Complain in the UK


So after telling the lovely make up lady that she had performed miracles in such a short time I was on with Tim Muffett and Naga Munchetty. Nice good looking couple. He told me he loved the title of my blog so we really like him don’t we?!

It was all over in a few minutes. Then out of the studio for a cuppa (clearly not awake had to get up 3 times to look for the milk which was right in front of me!) and more chatting with Phil. Then Professor of Strategy  at the Manchester Business School Manchester University, Gary Davies joined us. What a lovely man he is. Coincidentally he went to the same school as the other half! Small world. Agreed on everything customer service wise and then we were on.

The prof and me.

The prof and me.

This begs a caption around “It was this big”. However, what the Prof. was talking about was the Americans shouting and being in your face too much.  “I know Helen’s quite keen on the way things are done in America” he said. Hmmm, need to find where I’ve said that and delete it! I think expectations are higher and they complain more/better but I am agreeing with the Prof. here about when he was in a deserted store in America when a sales assistant shouted “How are we today”. Go away I’m British.


Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow & Professor Gary Davies BBC Breakfast TV Discuss Complaining

Well we were smiley! And no, I don’t know why these two videos are different sizes. They were cut from the same piece of film and I have tried different ratio thingies and gave up, so deal with it.
Now, personally I thought it was an enjoyable experience, the best part being hair and make up frankly. So many people who know me and those who don’t told me they

were surprised by how articulate I was and how well I presented! I’ve presented many many times (albeit not on telly!) been a key note speaker at conferences etc., So I don’t whether to take these comments as compliments or not! 🙂 Compliments about how I looked and how some people didn’t recognise me were certainly understandable! Mind you, a friend said “Nice make-up, hair and clothes!” The clothes were all mine! All mine I tell you!

However, the best comments came from a friend’s 4 year old. “How did Helen get in our telly?” and my 5 year old “Mummy was the best thing on television” Me “Even better than Power Rangers?” “No”.

So there you have it. One of the worst programmes on TV is better than me. I thank you and good night!

Credit BBC Breakfast TV for Pics and films.