Six high street furniture and carpet retailers have been accused of misleading their customers through inflated reference pricing.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said the stores, which include Carpetright and the ScS chain, had advertised reductions from previously higher prices and mislead customers into thinking they were saving money.
Gaucho Rasmussen, Enforcement Director at the OFT said: “Reference pricing can mislead consumers into thinking the item they have bought is of higher value and quality.
“Buying an item immediately means they do not get the chance to search the market for the real best deals.”
Reference pricing is where a retailer claims the price ‘was’ £800, and is ‘now’ half price at £400, for example.
The OFT said that in some cases they were investigating, the stores had not sold a single product at the previous higher price.
It also said the problem was ‘endemic’ within the industry.
“The OFT’s warning sends a clear message to carpet and furniture stores that special offers really have to be special. It’s unacceptable that shoppers are misled into thinking they’re getting a good deal when that might not be the case,” said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd.
Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs) 2008, it is illegal to indulge in misleading or aggressive advertising.