The Argos sale - the sale where prices go <em>up</em>?

8 January 2009

We warned you earlier in the week about how prices of goods can be manipulated in sales. Halfords provided the example of a price comparison that stated a sale saving was better than half price, when in fact the immediate saving was far less; Halfords hadn't compared the sale price to the price immediately before the sale, but to a higher price several weeks previous.

It's a practise allowed by law, but one that could still confuse many people. Here's another example from the Argos website, as pointed out by Bitterwallet readers Robert and fwiw; a Samsung digital camera - was £79.99, now £68.29; you save over £11 in the sale!

But before you strip bollock naked and party in a sex way, you notice the sale price has an asterisk next to it, so you read the small print and discover the camera has been retailing for £10 less than the current sale price. According to Robert, "the price has actually increased by £10 in the last few days, whilst it was in the clearance section":

As long the higher price occurred within the last six months and lasted 28 consecutive days, then everything's above aboard as far as Trading Standards and Consumer Direct are concerned. That said, there's a sentence near the beginning of the DTI's Code of Practice for Traders on Price Indications which muddies the water:

There don't seem to be any caveats attached to the sentence, so it reads as if the sale price should be compared to the price immediately before the sale. We asked both Trading Standards and Consumer Direct about this particular sentence earlier in the week; they didn't seem to be aware of it, and instead repeated the six months / 28 day law. We may have misread it or there may be a newer code of practise available which we can't find one - have a read of the code here and see what you think.


  • MR C.
    ~Checkout the 8GB Sansa View Mp3 Player at Argos, I bought it half price from Argos @ £74.99 a few weeks before xmas, its now £146.79 (Saving £3! from £149.99!) but the note at the bottom says "* Please note item 5138252 has previously been on sale at £97.89." EeeeeeeRrrrroooooR!
  • Molby
    It's practice not practise. We're bloody Brits not Yanks!
  • Molby
    The so called sales this year have been absolute crap.
  • zygo
    Actually "practise" is a verb and "practice" is a noun - Both BRITISH English
  • Disneyfan
    Practice, Practise, who gives a two hoots. get a life. Or a live, or a lice or even a wife. Naaa that would be pushing luck too far for a grammar anorack!
  • Pete
    It is a code of practice and states "It is guidance, rather than mandatory, although it might be taken into account in establishing whether an offence has been committed under the Act." In other words - it's worthless !
  • Not S.
    Just shows what robbing fuckers they really are ;) . Headlines tommorow .......Argos in administration ???. Treat your customers with respect not like ignorant twats or they may bite your arse !!!
  • Get o.
    Agree, worst sales for years. Considering the retail sector is struggling you would think decent % cross the board cuts would help. However like always the shops just discount the riubbsh they just seem to save up year on year. Went to the John Lewis sale on Saturday 27/12, one of the first in and what a load of trash, shame like the shop & service they provide. Who's next to go one the high street??
  • Mike H.
    I'm more intelligent, I'm waiting for the prices to go up even more before I buy!
  • Slugsby
    Slugsby rules.
  • Juan T.
    I'm glad I'm not the only one noticing this nefarious activity. I was going to buy my daughter a Creative x-fi mp3 for christmas. I watched the prices for a while and then decided to pounce. It was between Comet and the Creative on-line store, Comet were £10 more but I could go to the store whilst on-line would cost me postage and christmas was looming. I checked the comet site the evening before I was going to buy it and saw that the price had risen another £10 so I thought that I would get it direct from Creative but their price had risen by £20 which is where it remains for their sale(!?). I bought some new work gear from a place in the U.S. Sale prices were good but the p&p has jumped by $25 and the carriers will charge v.a.t. on that. Are they allowed to charge v.a.t. on postage?
  • Juan T.
    I forgot to say in defence of John Lewis that my wife bought £40 worth of quality bath towels for £12.
  • Pedantry P.
    @Disney fan - it's 'anorak', not 'anorack'
  • Rubbish S.
    I agree this has been the worst sales I've ever experienced and given that the media keep going on about huge price reductions I find it very strange!!!! I've not really bought anything in the sale where as usually I buy quite a bit!
  • Ant
  • Gruffy
    The same thing happening at Zavvi stores, I know they is in administration but do they really think people are that daft ? For example GTA IV is £45 then 20% off, its still £36 - but its been like £17.99 / £20 on most websites ie, etc The other example was Mass Effect (pc) was like £5 in the run up to xmas & its now £15 They seem to be hiking up the prices to maximize profits & then offer 10/20% etc off, so people are lead into thinking they are getting money off.
  • paks
    It seems Argos are incuding all thier items in thier '' Excluded from our 30 day money back gaurantee'' Who regulates which ones is included or not. Particularly the electronic items you get stuck once u buy from them
  • A B.
    [...] told you last week how a high street sale doesn’t necessarily guarantee a saving - the law allows a certain [...]
  • Suellen L.
    nice web page i found your post on a google search
  • Consumer S.
    Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was once a enjoyment account it. Glance complex to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we keep in touch?

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