Tesco’s lack of clear pricing on some food and drink promotions “could be breaking the law”, according to Which?
The British consumer group said it has reported the supermarket giant to the UK competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), as it criticised its pricing information displayed for some products.
Which? said the grocery chain failed to provide unit pricing – such as the price per 100g – on products with Clubcard promotion prices.
Unit prices can be used by shoppers in stores and online to compare the value of products they are purchasing.
Which? claims the decision not to display this unit pricing on some offers could be a “misleading practice” under the UK's Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Tesco said in response that its price labelling has been “formally endorsed” by Trading Standards, after it asked to organisation to review its Clubcard Prices promotions.
It added that it is “disappointed” by the “ill-founded claims” by Which?
The criticism comes after Tesco Ireland moved to reduce prices by an average of 10 per cent on 700 products on Thursday.
Joe Manning, commercial director at Tesco Ireland, said the company is responding to falling supplier costs.
Sue Davies, Which? head of food policy, said: “Tesco’s unclear Clubcard pricing is at best confusing for shoppers struggling with soaring food inflation and at worst, could be breaking the law.”
The consumer group said it is urging Tesco to act now and introduce unit pricing on Clubcard prices as soon as possible to help shoppers find the best deals.
Which? added that it has nevertheless found issues with unit pricing across all supermarkets.
In one example, it said it found Heinz tomato ketchup in Tesco where the label showed the standard price for a 700g bottle is £3.90 (or 55.7p per 100g).
Meanwhile, a Clubcard label showed the bottle on offer, at £3.50 for the same 700g bottle, but there is no explanation of the unit price, which would be 50p per 100g.
However, a 910g bottle of exactly the same ketchup on the shelf below is £3.99 for everyone, or 43.8p per 100g.
Ms Davies added: “We expect the regulator to look at unit pricing on the growing number of supermarket member price schemes as part of its review.
“At this time of crisis, supermarkets cannot cut corners; they have a duty to ensure pricing is clear so that customers can get the best value.
“We also need to see these retailers support consumers in the face of high inflation by stocking a range of essential budget lines in smaller stores, particularly in areas where people are struggling most.”
A spokesman for Tesco said: “Providing great value and clear pricing is really important to us.
“We always take care to ensure we are compliant which is why we asked Trading Standards to review our approach on Clubcard Prices.
“They formally endorsed our labelling, confirming it meets the current legal requirements and guidelines.
“We are supportive of calls for greater clarity on the regulations in this area, in the interests of both businesses and consumers, and are actively looking at how we can make the way we display pricing even clearer for our customers.
“However, given that we are complying with all the current rules, we are disappointed that Which? has chosen to make these ill-founded claims against our Clubcard Prices scheme, which helps millions of households get great value week-in, week-out, and could save shoppers up to £351 per year.”
A CMA spokeswoman said: “Our current review of unit pricing is considering the issue of how supermarkets provide unit price information for products on promotions, including loyalty promotions. We will set out our findings in July”.