OFT Launches Crackdown on Misleading Prices
Businesses have been warned to check their pricing is “transparent” or risk enforcement action, following the launch of a crackdown on misleading price practices by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
The OFT has identified the pricing practices most likely to cause harm, both online and offline. These include drip pricing (where delivery charges or taxes are added to purchases at the checkout), time-limited offers and baiting sales (when the business only has a small supply of stock available at the advertised offer price).
Under the Consumer Protection for Unfair Trading Regulations (2008) businesses are prohibited from displaying misleading advertising. Those that fail to comply could face fines or legal action.
Association of Convenience Stores spokesman, Shane Brennan, said that most small retailers were compliant with the laws, but that they should take a “common sense approach” to ensuring they do not mislead customers.
“They should be careful about time limited promotions that only last a few days or even hours, and advertise exactly when the offer is available from and until. Basically, if they put themselves into the customer’s shoes and think something could be misleading, they should change the way they are pricing or promoting it.”
Small-business owner Claire Curzon, managing director of marketing agency Brighter Directions, said that she ensures that transparency is a priority for her firm.
“We always make sure our pricing is totally transparent, and that the customer knows what they are getting for their money. If you mess up at that early stage — for example, when you’re quoting for a job — then it doesn’t give a client much faith in the actual service.”
“Most small businesses try to be as clear as they can. However, business jargon can get in the way and can give the customer the wrong idea of what the service or price includes. They should make it as simple as possible.”