No more closing down sales?*

24 January 2014

carpetDodgy ‘sales’ have been in the news a lot over the past year, with things like Tesco’s Strawberrygate meaning that consumers don’t necessarily believe retailers when they say are offering massive discounts on the ‘real’ price. Now the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) has rapped the knuckles of two carpet firms as part of an investigation into the home furnishing sector.

Nixon and Hope Ltd, owners of Floors2Go were reprimanded for ‘inaccurately calculating’ percentage discounts on sale promotions, as well as listing prices exclusive of VAT, which can only be done when making business to business sales.

The OFT reported that the firm had already amended its website  “to ensure any percentage savings claims are accurate”, adding that Nixon and Hope had made a commitment to change the VAT exclusive prices “in February.”

However, the OFT have also had words with United Carpets Group Plc, after investigations suggested recommended retail prices might not be genuine, and that sale prices might, in fact, be the same price items are sold at throughout the year. United Carpets were also ticked off for liberal use of time-sensitive promotions.

The OFT said that United Carpets had pledged to “refrain from using time-sensitive promotions like a "closing down sale" or "closing down for refurbishment" without giving consumers clear information and an explanation of the circumstances of the promotion.” That's a watertight undertaking right there. There’s no way  they’re wheedling out of that one.

United Carpets confirmed the OFT statement, saying: "The company can confirm that it has signed up to two additional retailing principles agreed with the OFT to ensure even greater transparency to our pricing practices. While the OFT's investigation into the sector is ongoing, United Carpets is no longer a part of it,"

Other businesses being investigated by the OFT reportedly include perennial sale merchants DFS, as well as other major players like Furniture Village and Harveys, but it remains to be seen whether the industry will voluntarily clean up its act because the OFT asks nicely, or whether the OFT need to start showing some teeth.

*unless actually closing down

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice

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