Dec. 15, 2011
-- Britain's biggest supermarkets spend a lot of advertising money telling us they offer great value. But an investigation by Panorama has revealed that not all "bargains" are quite what they seem. The deals at Asda, Tesco, Morrison’s and Sainsbury's might seem to be everywhere, but strip away the jargon and catchy promises of "huge savings" and "special offers" and you are just as likely to find tactics that experts say range from a bit cheeky to others that could lead to prosecutions for breach of consumer protection regulations. Managing Director of Gateway Kent, an outsource sales and marketing company that has recently opened their doors for business, has said ‘everyone can learn a lot about this story, tactics like this have been around for years and used by many companies to increase their market share. The question is where do you draw the line on what is acceptable and what is not?’
There are so many little tactics used by retailers to push certain products into the market. Everything that is mentioned below about the tactics used by retails definitely goes unnoticed by consumers. With the amount of advertising and clutter an individual is exposed to, they would not notice a product going up in price by a few pence. However it all adds up and if it is sold to us as a cheaper alternative when in actual fact it is not, that’s where the issue lies. Gateway Kent’s Director goes further to say, ‘it is not just up to the supermarkets that the rules are followed but also the brands themselves. As it is their name and on the line it is up to each company to ensure that their product is promoted correctly.’
At Asda, the well-publicised "Special Offers" area of their online shopping site was offering "Wow" deals. They told us that it means they are cheaper than they would normally be. But a check of the price histories of some of the "Wow" items found that 11 had been for sale at the same price for at least six months - so no savings there - and four items were actually more expensive than they used to be. Deborah Parry, a lawyer who advised the government on EU consumer protection regulations and British law, says the "Wow" labelling could be a breach of the law. "The average consumer, when they learned the truth that the price was not reduced and in fact had been increased almost certainly would not purchase them." When contacted by the BBC, Asda said the products should not have been advertised as "Wow" and removed them from the website. The Managing Director of Gateway Kent is amazed by these figures saying ‘with the amount of products an individual will buy on a shopping trip they would never notice this. This is where the problem is, consumers are definitely not blind to the fact that retailers use certain gimmicks to get their attention but I am sure most consumers would say this is taking it too far.’
Reading more and more about the investigation into supermarkets there are so many ways to ‘tick’ customers into thinking they are getting good value for money when in actual fact they are not. The Managing Director of Gateway Kent goes further to say, ‘awareness is the first step, now that consumers know that this is going on, they can make a more informed decision on where they spend their money.’
WATCH: Sophie Raworth investigates supermarket price promotions
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