A reader from Dublin 3 recently bought an organic chicken in Marks & Spencer; while it was absolutely fine, paying for it left a bitter taste in her mouth because of what she calls its “blatantly misleading” price tag. The chicken in question had a large red label on the packaging proudly announcing that there was 25 per cent off per kg; underneath the outsized red sticker, in finer print, shoppers were advised to “see price ticket for details” The price ticket had the usual use by date, weight and price which was €9.36.
“At the till I was charged the €9.36,” writes our reader. “I queried this with a staff member, who said that the reduction was already included in the price.” She reasoned that “then there wasn’t 25 per cent off the price as stated; he agreed that it was misleading but that was the way it came in to them and there was nothing he could or would do for me. I went ahead with the purchase, as how else do you really complain about these things?
“Surely this is blatantly misleading: there is no 25 per cent off the stated item. A number of people came up to me on the way out and said they had similar incidents with M&S and got nowhere either,” she says.
We contacted the store ourselves to find out more and received the following statement: “The product was reduced from €9.99 per kilo to €7.49, ie less 25 per cent. The product had a shelf ticket stating that reduction with a slash ticket. Whole chickens are a catch weight line, therefore the customer pays for the weight of the chicken multiplied by the price per kilo.
“M&S don’t show a slash price on each individual product as they are all different weights but they do on the shelf ticket. The price on the chicken is the total price the customer pays, which is calculated on the actual chicken weight multiplied by the discounted price per kilo.” Hmmm.
The response was almost as confusing to Pricewatch as the in-store labelling was to our reader and did not address at all the central complaint she was making, which was that having a large red 25 per cent off sticker emblazoned on the packaging has the potential to, at the very least, create the impression amongst shoppers not inclined to study the fine print on the shelf ticket that there is 25 per cent off the marked price of the item.
We contacted the store seeking further clarification but no one was available to elaborate on the original response.