LONDON, March 21 Britain's competition watchdog
has closed an investigation into five furniture and carpet
retailers, including market-leader Carpetright, after
the firms agreed to change pricing practices that it said could
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has taken a tougher stance
against retailers to ensure consumers can trust their prices and
communications and in August last year ordered the retailers to
stop misleading shoppers by artificially ramping up the value of
discounts during sales promotions.
The OFT said on Friday five companies, SCS, Carpetright,
Dreams, Furniture Village and Harveys/Bensons for Beds had all
made changes to their reference pricing practices. A sixth firm,
DFS, was cleared in December after making price commitments.
Reference prices are used by retailers to advertise a
bargain to shoppers by comparing a lower current price against a
higher past price.
The OFT said in August the retailers had artificially
inflated reference prices on items to promote discounts that
were not genuine, making it seem better value than it was.
"Retailers advertise bargains and discounts by referring to
a previous or future higher price. It's a powerful marketing
tool which, when used properly, provides a helpful and easy way
to demonstrate to shoppers the value of discounts and savings,"
OFT director Gaucho Rasmussen said.
"We are therefore pleased that these retailers have
confirmed their commitment to using genuine prices."
Carpetright, Britain's biggest floor coverings retailer,
said in a statement it was pleased the OFT had welcomed its
commitment to transparent pricing.
(Reporting by Neil Maidment; editing by James Davey)