Department store giant House of Fraser has been fined £40,000 over misleading pricing during last year’s Christmas season. An investigation by Torfaen County Borough Council in wales showed some its pricing made shoppers think they were getting higher discounts than they actually were.
Trading standards officers looked at prices online and in stores and found that the company had compared the current price with a higher previous price but had failed to show a reduction that had happened in-between. That meant consumers believed the items had only been on sale at the higher prices and so the reduced prices looked more attractive.
It was also revealed in the magistrates court that the retailer had been warned by Westminster Council in London earlier in 2015 that it was not following Pricing Practices guidelines over handbag prices.
The company was commended though for pleading guilty to the Christmas pricing offence at an early stage and having no previous convictions.
District Judge Martin Brown said: ”It may seem to some to be a rather trivial affair, but this is a large retailer in whom the public consider they can place their trust.”
While the £40,000 fine is relatively small in relation to turnover at the chain this Christmas season and it relates to offences of a year ago, the widely-publicised ruling comes at a bad time. Retailers are currently publicising their discounts and counting on consumer trust in the validity of those discounts to drive traffic both online and in-store.