There's going to be a Super Complaint against supermarkets

21 April 2015

supermarket_sweep_b Ever heard of a 'super complaint'? We thought it might be a place where Spider Man can air his grievances about the tightness of his outfit or a place where Wonder Woman can take baddies to an ombudsman.

It isn't, sadly. Either way, this super complaint is being levelled at the supermarkets of the UK over their pricing tactics and it could well result in a competition inquiry.

Which!!! threw their weight around and accused businesses of ripping off consumers with misleading and confusing prices, and they have given a load of evidence to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Which!!! have accused retailers of giving shoppers the illusion of saving money if they get multi-buys, but they end up buying products that have shrunk, alongside sales offers with 40% of groceries sold on promotion, which are making people flummoxed. Consumers clearly know something is amiss, which is why they're turning to Aldi and Lidl, where offers are replaced with things that are simply cheap.

The report says that consumers could be losing out on millions of pounds if they can't fairly work out if a deal is fair or not. Under the spotlight, as well as multi-buys, as 'was/now' promotions, which sees own-brand and branded goods being sold at the same price, even though the product itself is much smaller.

Some people are calling this 'shrinkflation'.

Which!!! big cheese Richard Lloyd said: "Despite Which!!! repeatedly exposing misleading and confusing pricing tactics, and calling for voluntary change by the retailers, these dodgy offers remain on numerous supermarket shelves."

We've seen all this before, of course. Which!!! have the example of a multi-buy offer that misleads consumers, seeing a leading chain increasing the price of a Chicago Town Four Cheese Pizza Two-Pack from £1.50 to £2 last year as it went onto multi-buy at two for £3, which went back to £1.50 after the offer ended.

The CMA has 90 days to respond to the super-complaint.

What do you think?

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