“Asda has been found breaking the rules and now must immediately clean up their act,” the Executive Director of consumer publication Which? has said.
The big four grocer has agreed to overhaul its price promotions after being spotlighted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The consumer watchdog had launched a probe into supermarket pricing tactics in riposte to a super-complaint by Which?. In April last year Which? accused major supermarket chains of essentially scamming consumers by disilluisioning them with multi-buys, shrinking products and confusing promotional offers.
The CMA said it “has had particular engagement with Asda in relation to specific areas of concern”, and the grocer had “given a commitment to the CMA that it will change the way it operates ‘was/now’ and multi-buy deals”.
Asda has assured that “was/now” prices will give shoppers a meaningful comparison and the grocer will not advertise the “now” price for longer than the original, while multi-buy offers will be better value than a single product before the deal.
Asda has also promised not to immediately follow multi-buy offers with “was/now” promotions, so it will be easier for shoppers to tell what is a good offer.
In July the CMA reported that it had found supermarkets to be misleading customers with confusing pricing promotions that could be against the law so it took measures to ensure grocers complied with the rules. Since then, the watchdog has met with a number of supermarkets and outlined expectations for price and promotional practice reviews.
“The CMA’s examination of the market, following the super-complaint, found that supermarkets generally take compliance seriously, but there were some promotional practices that could mislead shoppers,” commented the CMA’s Executive Director of Enforcement, Michael Grenfell.
“We welcome the commitment we have received from Asda as well as the engagement from other supermarkets, and expect them all to ensure that their practices are not misleading and that shoppers are better informed and able to choose the products that most suit their needs.”
“Our super-complaint and actions taken by the authorities should serve as a clear warning to all retailers,” adds Lloyd. “If they try to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes, they will not get away with it. Retailers must get their house in order.”