// Popular kitchen & bathroom retailers found to be “misleading” consumers on discounts
// Which? said retailers pressured consumer to take up “hurry” deals without knowing true value
// Wren Kitchens, Wickes, Bathstore, Better Bathrooms and Victoria Plum named in Which? report
Some well-known kitchen and bathroom retailers have been found to be using “potentially misleading” discount claims to lure consumers into rushing to spend thousands of pounds.
According to consumer lobby group Which?, retailers were putting out constant deals or using marketing techniques such as “hurry deals” which could pressure customers into making a quick purchase “then and there”.
Which? warned that the sales techniques made it harder for customers to determine the true value of a kitchen or bathroom.
Which? analysed discount offers retailers ran under various guises on at least 361 days out of 365 – a practice the watchdog said might have persuaded some shoppers to rush a purchase because they believed the deal was available for a limited time.
Out of the retailers in the investigation, Better Bathrooms, Victoria Plum and Victorian Plumbing were found to have used countdown clocks to promote various time-limited promotions during January and February 2019 – although each of these retailers were running other primary offers that were not time-limited.
Victoria Plum ran two offers on January 14 – “up to 70 per cent off January sale” and “an extra 10 per cent off sale prices”. It also used a countdown clock to show the discount was ending in less than two days.
However, when Which? checked again three days later, the “up to 70 per cent off” offer was still available, but customers could also get “20 per cent off sale prices” – twice the previous additional discount.
Although the countdown clock only applied to one of the two offers, Which? said consumers might have been misled into believing that the 70 per cent off sale was ending, not just the additional discount.
Meanwhile, many of the retailers Which? investigated had at least one promotion on a lot of the time – or even all of the time.
While promotions were not always for the same products, Which? found that Wren Kitchens and Wickes had various deals on every single day from March 2018 to March 2019.
Wren ran a multi-buy offer for 246 days for 50 per cent off when a customer purchased five or more kitchen units, although this was not promoted as being time-limited in any way.
For 49 days immediately before that, the offer was higher at 60 per cent, and another half-price offer without the multi-buy stipulation on the homepage ran for 70 days before that.
Wickes ran a similar deal, offering 50 per cent off its showroom kitchens for 199 days for those who bought five or more units.
Victoria Plum ran a series of deals on all but one day, while Bathstore also ran deals on 361 out of 365 days.
Which? filed a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority when it found that one retailer promoted an “offer” that it believes did not offer a genuine saving to consumers, as it doubled the price of its kitchens prior to or around the time of the sale.
Which? has also asked Trading Standards to investigate its findings.
It highlighted that a retailer’s actions could be found to have breached Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations if they could be shown to be misleading, and likely to cause the average person to make a purchase they would not otherwise have made.
“A new kitchen or bathroom is likely to set you back thousands of pounds, so it’s unacceptable for retailers to be using potentially misleading tricks to make a sale,” Which? head of home products Natalie Hitchins said.
“Our research suggests that this is an industry-wide issue. We want to see retailers being more transparent about their prices so that consumers aren’t misled into parting with their cash for a deal that might not be as good as it seems.
“If they don’t make improvements then trading standards and the ASA need to intervene.”