The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) recently announced that they’re writing to several carpet and furniture retailers concerning misleading reference pricing practices. This is where a retailer claims the price "was" £500, for example, and is "now" £300. The OFT has found that some retailers are using artificially high prices that exaggerate sales and price cuts, making it difficult for consumers to determine whether they’re getting a good deal.

There’s nothing wrong with an advertiser using sales or discount promotions to entice us, but they shouldn’t do so under false pretences. We’re here to take action if an advertiser oversteps the mark and misleadingly exaggerates the savings we’re likely to make.

It’s unfair to be misled into making a purchase we wouldn’t otherwise have agreed to - we’re led to believe we’re getting a better value or quality item than we are and it puts pressure on us to buy on the spot instead of hunting for a better deal. That’s why the advertising rules require that companies ensure that the pricing in their ads is accurate.

We recently ruled against a furniture company that was unable to prove that they’d sold the promotional items at the “was” price. We expect advertisers to hold evidence, such as invoices or sales receipts, to show that their prices are genuine. They should also be able to demonstrate that the products were sold at the original price for a reasonable amount of time prior to the promotion.

As highlighted in our Annual Report 2012 tackling misleading pricing is a top priority for us. We take concerns seriously, and we’ll continue to take action where necessary to make sure that these practices aren’t swept under the carpet.

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