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OFT gets tough on prices

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is working on proposals that could force retailers to make their adverts reflect the true cost of goods. The proposals include making retailers add any compulsory charges, such as delivery, to the advertised price and tougher rules on advertising time and volume-limited offers. Although it would affect all retailers, the move could have a huge impact on online traders and price-comparison websites.

Earlier this year, the OFT commissioned research into common pricing methods used by retailers. It found that time-limited offers and drip-pricing, where additional charges such as taxes and delivery costs are added to a basic price as die sales process progresses, cause most concern for consumers.

The Study found time-limited sales in particular can mislead people to make a purchase on the basis that the item may soon become unavailable.

It was highly critical of volume-limited offers, better known as 'bait-and-switch', in which consumers are invited to purchase one item at a significant discount, then told the item is out of stock and urged to buy an alternative. The OFT said: "The proposals do not represent new rules but a suggested starting point for the OFT to use when assessing whether an advertised price promotion breaches the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs)."

It has now published draft guidance for discussion with the retail industry. Among the proposals is a requirement for traders to clearly state the start and end dates or number of products available in time- and volume-limited offers.

 

Source: Computer Active

Author: Endang S

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