Discussion: UK supermarkets dupe shoppers out of hundreds of millions, says Which? | The Guardian

Which? claims supermarkets are fooling shoppers into choosing products they might not have bought if they knew the full facts. Photograph: Alex Segre/Rex Features

The competition regulator is to scrutinise allegations that UK supermarkets have duped shoppers out of hundreds of millions of pounds through misleading pricing tactics.

Which? has lodged the first ever super-complaint against the grocery sector after compiling a dossier of “dodgy multi-buys, shrinking products and baffling sales offers” and sending it to the Competition and Markets Authority.

The consumer group claims supermarkets are pushing illusory savings and fooling shoppers into choosing products they might not have bought if they knew the full facts.

Examples raised by Which? include Tesco flagging the “special value” of a sweetcorn sixpack when a smaller pack was proportionately cheaper, and Asda raising the individual price of a product when it was part of a multi-buy offering in order to make the deal more attractive.

Top Comments

I have pretty advanced mental arithmetic skills, but even I struggle sometimes in supermarkets. Some of the pricing is so convoluted it is impossible to keep up, especially when the pricing changes from week to week.
Which is why I always check the unit-cost, it is usually labelled somewhere. If it’s not, I do a quick calculation in my head (or on my phone if its a bit tricky). The whole ‘raise the price then drop it’ is much harder to deal with and relies on simply remembering the rough price over time, but I pretty much run under the assumption that any ‘deal’ is probably bullshit and therefore simply ask myself ‘if this product worth this money’ on anything, even a ‘great deal’… oh, and don’t be fooled by the stupid ‘special buy’ labels that look like a special offer, but aren’t and are just featured products…
Yes, and there are so many different forms of offer – 3 for 2, 5 for £X, 30% off Y if you buy it with Z, 25% bigger pack, multiple bonus points if you spend more than £X (still only worth the square root of sweet f-a). Deliberate obfuscation, and socially regressive to boot: people with the ability and time to do the sums and the spare cash to buy tactically in advance of need can profit, while the innumerate, harrassed, distracted and skint get ripped off.
Makes me shop at Lidl when I can, where the price is just the price, clearly and consistently marked per kg, and usually low.
Yes indeed. Every time I buy something on special offer in Tesco’s I try to watch as the item is being scanned, and definitely check my receipt afterwards. In many cases, I find that I’ve been charged full price for the item.

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UK supermarkets dupe shoppers out of hundreds of millions, says Which?