Misleading 'offer / sale' Promotions

in Gone off!
5 replies 1.1K views
I assume this isn't illegal but think it's misleading, so would appreciate your comments.

I keep track of all the products and prices (and current offers) for my online Supermarket. I noticed the following for an item:

9th June, the price was £6, and the offer said "Save £1.00 Was £7.00 now £6"

11th June, the price was £5, and the offer said "Save £2.00 was £7.00, now £5".

I didn't have the price from the website for before the 9th June, but assume that it was £7.00 at some time in the past.

So on the 11th, the 'offer' was suggesting that that you would save £2 by buying the item. However, the last published price was £6, so actually, you'd only be saving £1 because the day before, you would have been able to buy it for £6.

So, they're really saying "At some point in the dim and distant past, we sold this product for £7, so we'll show the saving against that high price, rather than against the most recent price".

They have 25,000 products so it wouldn't bother me if they get a few wrong every now and then, but I don't think this is a one off. I'll look to see if this is a common tactic.




  • VfM4meplseVfM4meplse PPR
    34.3K Posts
    I've been Money Tipped!
    I suppose your perspective depends on how much you want that product: is it an item you'd buy regularly (in which case decide what price makes it too expensive for you to continue to buy), or an impulse purchase?

    I don't use MySupermarket that often but do keep and the few branded products (treats) I buy. The graph at the bottom can be useful and I stock up when it hits the bottom figure.

    "No man is worth, crawling on the earth"- adapted from Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

    Hope is not a strategy :D...A child is for life, not just 18 years....Don't get me started on the NHS, because you won't win...I love chaz-ing!
  • Hi,

    Thanks for the reply. For me, if I'm happy to pay £x for a product then I'll pay that. If I can get it for less, then even better.

    I was more interested in whether others thought this sort of thing was misleading. I might even dig around to see what the law is on showing previous sale prices. I'm not on a witch-hunt for this supermarket as I'm sure they all do the same - stay on the right side of the law but are happy if consumers are mislead a little bit. I'll check over the next few days to see how commonly they do it.

    I'm just a bit of a statistics-freak - so this sort of thing stands out when I'm looking at the data.

    I read a few comments about MySupermarket and looked at the website today. It looks ok - but does a lot more than I need. I'm more interested in spotting a good time to buy X online from my supermarket than comparing the cost between supermarkets. Which is why I wrote my own system to gather/store/report on the data.


  • pumpkin89pumpkin89 Forumite
    494 Posts
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Posts Name Dropper
    If a promotion is deemed misleading then the retailer can be fined. The law is a bit woolly on what constitutes misleading, but there are guidelines. The most relevant ones are:
    • The "was" price should have applied within the last 2 months (so not quite the dim and distant past, but it can be a while ago)
    • The promotion cannot be advertised for longer than the "was" price was in effect (so if the item was sold at £7 for two weeks, it can't be advertised as was £7 now £5 for more than two weeks)
    • It could be deemed misleading if the higher price is not the last price that the product was sold at (for example there have been intervening prices, but the higher price is used as the reference price)

    So you're absolutely right, this situation could be seen as misleading based on the last point. I guess the middle point is the complication, as if they had only sold it at £6 for one day, they could only say "was £6 now £5" for one day, but they'd then be allowed (technically) to revert to "was £7 now £5". Arguably that would be even more misleading!
  • EyePeaSeaEyePeaSea Forumite
    19 Posts
    Hi Pumkin89,

    Thank you very much for the reply and for providing the actual legal wording.

    I think that the third point sums it up, although I don't yet have enough historic data to see if the second point applies.

    I do think it's misleading and, although I'm sure they all do the same, I don't think that makes it justifiable. When I've got more data I'll be able to see if this is a common trend or just a one off.

    Thanks again

  • Enterprise_1701CEnterprise_1701C Forumite
    23.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Photogenic Mortgage-free Glee!
    To be honest I very rarely pay attention to the "save X". You see people in the reductions section grabbing things because they have X off, I always look at that and ask if I would pay that at full price and, a lot of the time, I would not.

    Also worth mentioning that the expensive lines tend to be the ones in the line of sight, if you want to save money look down below what you normally buy.
    What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare
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