UK competition watchdog warns retailers on misleading prices
LONDON Aug 23 (Reuters) - Britain's competition watchdog said on Friday it has told six high street furniture and carpet retailers to stop using artificially high prices to exaggerate sales and price cuts.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said it opened an investigation after finding that many retailers in the sector were misleading customers into thinking they were getting a bargain by artificially inflating the original price.
The watchdog did not name the retailers under investigation as it hopes to reach a resolution with them.
It has written to them, asking them to stop using the pricing practices that mislead consumers, giving them until autumn to respond.
The OFT found "systematic" examples of artificially inflated reference pricing within the industry.
That is the use of "was" prices formerly charged by the retailer, "after sale" prices that the trader intended to charge in the future, or recommended retail prices (RRPs) set by the manufacturer.
The OFT said that during the monitoring of the six companies the overall average of sales of items at the reference price was just 5 percent, while there were a significant number of products sold where no sales at all took place at the artificially inflated price. (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Rhys Jones)