Following the investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) launched last year, Carpetright, SCS, Dreams, Furniture Village, Harveys and Bensons for Beds have confirmed their commitment to using genuine reference prices and, without any admission of liability, have made changes to their reference pricing practices. Investigations into DFS, also implicated, were closed in December. The OFT has now closed its investigation.
Reference prices are used by retailers across their sector to advertise a bargain to shoppers – for example, by comparing a lower current price against a higher past price – which can be misleading.
Gaucho Rasmussen, OFT director, Goods and Consumer Group, says: “Retailers advertise bargains and discounts by referring to a previous or future higher price. It’s a powerful marketing tool which, when used properly, provides a helpful and easy way to demonstrate to shoppers the value of discounts and savings. We are therefore pleased that these retailers have confirmed their commitment to using genuine prices.”
Alex Chisholm, chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will succeed the OFT on 1st April, says: “The CMA will monitor pricing practices within this sector to check whether businesses are complying with their legal obligations. Companies are advised to satisfy themselves that their practices are in line with the law, because failure to do so could risk enforcement action.”