In a business that contributed up to £180 billion to the UK economy in 2014, it is almost inevitable that along the way some mistakes are going to be made, but let us put the findings of the recent Which? “super-complaint” to the CMA into a little more context and what this really means.
Last weeks BBC Business News article, stated that Which? had found hundreds of examples of “misleading and confusing pricing tactics” in its investigation whereas following a 3-month investigation the CMA said that although there was evidence of misleading pricing, the practice did not appear widespread and that retailers were generally taking compliance seriously.
That may well be the case (and probably seen as good news by some) however lets not forget, this is a problem that potentially carries significant scale as if a price or offer is wrong or confusing in one store, then you can be fairly confident that it will be wrong and confusing in all stores within that chain – for someone like Tesco or The Co-operative Group, that is somewhere in the order of 3,500 stores that could have either illegal, misleading or confusing pricing and promotions.
The CMA checked 150,000 products as part of the investigation and of these there were 800 potentially misleading prices (0.5%) however when you multiply that across an estate of 3,500 stores that’s close to 3 million potentially misleading tickets– you now see how this really can be a big deal with significant consequences to both retailers and consumers – for the retailer, this might mean hefty fines, however it’s probably the bad PR and loss of customer confidence that will be felt the longest and hardest as shoppers switch retailer and in some cases, brands.