Sir: This week’s Which? report into supermarkets offering ‘dodgy discounts’ adds fuel to a media debate ongoing for a number of months now (‘Supermarkets lambasted for ‘dodgy discounts’ in Which? report,’ thegrocer.co.uk, 19 November). This summer saw a number of high-profile retailers facing criticism (and hefty fines) for their promotional pricing practices, and this latest report will only lead to greater scrutiny of special offers by regulators, particularly in the food sector.
The law in this area is clear: retailers cannot mislead consumers in relation to the price, which includes suggesting an offer is more special than it is. If the mechanics of the promotion are expressly clear, it is very unlikely to be classed as ‘misleading’ by the courts.
Two specific pieces of guidance underpin this legal requirement and go into detail on the way various price promotions should be run (although this sensibly excludes multibuy offers because they are discounted on a volume basis, rather than against a previous price).
Retailers are very familiar with these rules and go to considerable lengths to ensure consumers get a great deal. While this does not mean mistakes will never be made, to use language that suggests retailers may ‘still’ be ‘pulling the wool over our eyes’ is stretching the point too far - it is not in their interests to behave in that way.
Dominic Watkins, partner & head of food sector group, DWF