As household budgets are becoming increasingly squeezed, finding a bargain becomes a vital part of many shopping trips. But, consumers are being warned to be on the lookout for misleading deals, discounts and multibuys, as they could end up costing more than the original price.
Research from consumer group Which?, compiled using over 70,000 grocery prices, has revealed that a lot of leading supermarkets still advertise highly questionable "offers" that mislead the consumer into thinking they're getting a better deal than they actually are.
For example, there were a lot of instances where the so-called lower price was on offer for much longer than the original higher price, whilst in other cases buying items as part of a multibuy offer would cost more than if they were bought individually.
These findings were uncovered despite the fact that eight of the UK's major supermarkets signed a set of fairness principles last November, after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) was concerned that supermarkets were artificially inflating prices to make the resulting offers look more attractive.
Unfortunately these principles aren't always being stuck to, and it was also found that a lot of the rules were too vague to be properly implemented.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of the consumer group, said that supermarkets aren't playing fair – particularly at a time when budgets are already being squeezed by rising food prices.
This perhaps explains the increasing popularity of voucher deals and codes. Consumers can get genuine value and easily recognisable discounts, something which can't always be said if they relied on supermarket deals, so anyone that's getting poor value from their regular shop might want to do a bit of research to see if they can find additional discounts.
Meanwhile, what should consumers do if they spot a dodgy deal on the shelves? Well, it's actually a criminal offence for supermarkets to mislead consumers on pricing, so anyone that's found a less-than-genuine bargain should report it to their local Trading Standards officer.
Supermarket deals aren't delivering? Then check out our voucher section for the latest must-have bargains
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