Tesco reported to regulator over unclear pricing amid cost of living crisis

Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, has been reported to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) by consumer group Which? over concerns regarding unclear pricing on the majority of its food and drink promotions. The complaint comes as the CMA investigates whether supermarkets are making excessive profits through inflated prices amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Which? accuses Tesco of lacking transparency in its use of unit pricing both in-store and online, making it more difficult for customers to compare prices and find the best value. The consumer group claims that Tesco’s decision not to display unit pricing on its Clubcard offers could be considered a “misleading practice” under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs).

“Which? believes under these rules unit prices could be seen as ‘material information’ which most people would need in order to make an informed decision about how to get the best value from what they are buying,” the statement said.

Although Which? has found issues with unit pricing across all supermarkets, it highlighted that Tesco consistently omits unit pricing from Clubcard offers, which account for almost all promotions it offers on groceries.

Food inflation has remained a significant factor in the main Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure this year, with the latest reading for food and non-alcoholic drink inflation by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing it was still running above 19% during the year to April. The government is eager to reduce food inflation and is considering the idea of a cap, while also urging the wider food industry to take action.

In response to the complaint, a Tesco spokesperson stated: “Providing great value and clear pricing is really important to us. We always take care to ensure we are compliant which is why we asked Trading Standards to review our approach on Clubcard Prices.”

Tesco added that Trading Standards formally endorsed their labelling, confirming it meets the current legal requirements and guidelines. The supermarket chain expressed disappointment with Which?’s claims against its Clubcard Prices scheme, which it says helps millions of households save up to £351 per year.

Sue Davies, head of food policy at Which?, commented: “Tesco’s unclear Clubcard pricing is at best confusing for shoppers struggling with soaring food inflation and at worst, could be breaking the law.”

The CMA stated that its current review of unit pricing is examining how supermarkets provide unit price information for products on promotions, including loyalty promotions, and will reveal its findings in July.

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Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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