Supermarket shoppers urged to beware of misleading specials

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Apr 05, 2023 |

Consumer NZ, a consumer advocacy group, has received over 300 complaints from shoppers about misleading supermarket specials as part of its campaign to clean up supermarket pricing.

Among the complaints were 78 ‘specials’ that didn’t actually offer savings, 54 cases of customers being charged more than the shelf price, and 18 dodgy multibuys that were more expensive than buying the items individually.

Consumer NZ’s chief executive, Jon Duffy, said that the volume and frequency of misleading pricing and promotions on supermarket shelves is concerning.

In September, the watchdog asked for people’s help to call out misleading pricing. Due to the large number of complaints received, it took a while for Consumer NZ’s small team to work through and categorize them all.

The organization contacted supermarket bosses to share a sample of the complaints and raise concerns that many of the examples received risked breaching the Fair Trading Act.

Woolworths, the operator of Countdown, has taken Consumer NZ’s concerns on board and is working to implement changes to improve its pricing practices.

Foodstuffs, the operator of New World and Pak’n’Save, largely rejected Consumer NZ’s concerns about its pricing practices, stating that the number of complaints it received about pricing and ticketing practices was low compared to the number of transactions it processed.

However, the watchdog has asked Foodstuffs to mirror Countdown’s refund policy as a step to better address pricing errors when they occur.

Consumer NZ’s quarterly Sentiment Tracker surveying shows that cost-of-living concerns have risen sharply over the past year, with the cost of food central to these concerns.

The cost of food now ranks second highest on a list of financial concerns, behind housing payments. Consumer NZ is urging New Zealanders to be their eyes and ears and send photos of any examples of misleading pricing and promotions to [email protected].

Anything received will be added to the evidence and shared with the Commerce Commission for consideration.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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