Crackdown on Deals That Dupe Shoppers; Bogus Offers Could Be Outlawed by Christmas
Byline: Ryan Kisiel
'BOGUS' sales and offers often used by high street stores and travel firms are to be outlawed by Christmas, it was revealed last night.
The Office of Fair Trading says the deals leave shoppers confused and unable to work out the true value of what they are buying.
Promotional sales in stores that have an 'end date' which is repeatedly extended are among those targeted.
Masking price rises through promotions will also be banned.
Similarly, the practice of baiting - luring customers into stores with cheap products that have extremely limited availability - will also be stopped.
Customers rarely benefit from the supposedly 'limited' offer.
The OFT will outline the new standards this week.
Chiefs from Britain's main supermarkets and stores will take part in further talks with the OFT in October, with the rules expected to be enforced from December, in time for the busy Christmas period.
The two-month gap is to allow shops time to adjust to the new regulations. Retailers who then fail to comply with the rules will face prosecution and heavy fines under consumer protection laws.
OFT project leader James Macbeth said: 'One of our concerns is consumer confusion about the underlying value of an offer.
'There's also quite a strong competition element, because misleading practices make it doubly difficult for genuinely good deals to stand out.
'We want businesses to be able to get their messages out clearly and free of some of the noise and obfuscation that goes on.'
Under the new rules, the OFT will also tackle deals that are extended beyond the advertised end date simply in order to reach sales targets. Even if a deal is extended because it is popular, and the retailer offers more stock to carry it on, the watchdog will reprimand shops, saying they should not have started a time-limited offer in the first place. …