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OFT closes pricing probe as six promise to change their ways

Harveys2014The Office of Fair Trading has closed its investigation into reference pricing in the interiors sector after six major retailers promised to change their pricing practices.

Bensons for Beds, Carpetright, Dreams, Furniture Village, Harveys and ScS have 'confirmed their commitment to using genuine reference prices and, without any admission of liability, have made changes to their reference pricing practices,' says the OFT.

It says that consumers should be able to trust that reference price comparisons are fair and meaningful and that the advertised savings (or price advantages) are genuine. Improper use of reference prices can mislead consumers, for example in circumstances where the discounted price is in fact the normal retail price of a product.

The OFT says that the chains had advertised some normal retail prices as discounted prices.

'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. We are therefore pleased that these retailers have confirmed their commitment to using genuine prices,' says Gaucho Rasmussen, OFT director goods and consumer group.

The end of the investigation, which previously covered DFS, Floors2go and United Carpets and saw the flooring retailers change their pricing policies, came just weeks before the OFT is abolished and replaced by the Competition and Markets Authority. Alex Chisholm, CMA chief executive says: 'The CMA will monitor pricing practices within this sector to check whether businesses are complying with their legal obligations. Companies are advised to satisfy themselves that their practices are in line with the law because failure to do so could risk enforcement action.'

'We are pleased the OFT has publicly welcomed Carpetright's commitment to open and transparent pricing. When customers visit Carpetright they can be confident of getting good quality products at a competitive price, which is supported by our price promise,' says Carpetright.