House of Fraser has been fined £40,000 after it admitted misleading customers about price discounts in some of its stores in the run up to Christmas last year.
The investigation, led by Torfaen County Borough Council in Wales, found that House of Fraser stores in Cwmbran, Cardiff and Bournemouth were displaying misleading price comparisons on Christmas sale items, making shoppers believe they were getting a better bargain than actually existed.
Trading standards officers visited those three stores and online and found numerous Christmas items on sale that were labelled with “was/now” price indications, making consumers believe the goods had previously been on sale at the higher prices.
However, the council found that the price tags did not show the lower intervening prices so customers could be unaware whether they were receiving an actual reduction in price.
House of Fraser yesterday pleaded guilty to eight offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
District Judge Martin Brown said consumer protection should be at the forefront of the department store chain’s principles.
“It may seem to some to be a rather trivial affair, but this is a large retailer in whom the public consider they can place their trust,” he said.
“This business practice is one that a company of this standing should have been painstakingly guarding against.”
A spokeswoman for House of Fraser said: “At House of Fraser, we are committed to giving our customers great value through price offers and our policy is always to be clear and transparent to ensure that our customers are able to make informed decisions.
“We regret that on this occasion we did not meet our own high standards.
”Although, the charges related to only a very small selection of products, we have taken additional steps to further enhance our procedures going forward.
“House of Fraser will continue to work hard to provide our customers with great offers to ensure that our customers receive a premium and rewarding shopping experience.”