Consumer goods lawyer backs calls for ‘greater transparency’

UK consumer body Which? has lodged a ‘super complaint’ with UK regulator – the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) - amidst concerns over the pricing and marketing strategies used by some UK supermarkets.

A government body focused on promoting competition to benefit consumers, businesses and the economy, the CMA now has 90 days to respond to the Which? dossier which draws attention to ‘dodgy multi-buys’ and ‘baffling sales offers’.

In a statement to press the consumer body claimed that grocery retailers were ‘misleading people into choosing products they may not have picked if they knew the full facts’.

The legal capacity to lodge a ‘super-complaint’ with the CMA, which aims to tackle market wide consumer problems using its advisory, investigatory and enforcement powers, is held only by a small number of consumer bodies.

Today, leading consumer goods lawyer Emma Nash from Leigh Day welcomed the challenge and backed calls for ‘greater transparency’ across the grocery sector.

“The super-complaint lodged by Which? draws attention to a number of practices that are of concern including the marketing of multi-buy savings or offering items in larger quantities at discounted prices. On the face of it they appear to be attractive savings but the reality can often differ.

“Such concerns have previously been highlighted and I hope that the super-complaint will result in these issues being addressed – resulting in greater transparency for consumers and the promotion of fair competition for all.”

The super-complaint has been launched by Which? using the Enterprise Act 2002 following their research and experience of supermarket pricing practices over the last seven years. A full dossier from the consumer body is available online.

Emma Nash from Leigh Day, who recently appeared on Channel 4’s documentary programme Dispatches which highlighted some of the pricing strategies under scrutiny in the grocery industry, said: “The concern is that the pricing strategies discussed in the dossier are persuading customers to purchase items that they would not normally consider buying, and presenting a misleading picture to consumers while also boosting profits.

The CMA now has 90 days to respond – their wide range of options include either rejecting the complaint or requesting a market study to be undertaken which would involve ordering supermarkets to provide further information, before beginning a full investigation.