Personal Finance

Tesco Clubcard pricing ‘could be breaking law’ – supermarket reported to watchdog

Tesco could be breaking the law with its Clubcard deal pricing, it's been claimed.

The supermarket giant has been reported to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over unclear prices on the "vast majority" of its Clubcard discounts.

Tesco, which denies any wrongdoing, started introducing large discounts for many of its popular items exclusively for Clubcard users more than two years ago.

It claims the average customer could save up to £351 a year with the promotions when compared with the regular prices.

But the biggest savings could actually be made by ignoring many of the Clubcard prices and choosing items more carefully.

When looking at the cost per 100g of some items, it is often actually more economical to buy a different size, rather than buy the discounted item, consumer campaigners Which? found.

During research, the standard price of a 700g of Heinz tomato ketchup was £3.90, or 55.7p per 100g. This was reduced to £3.50 under the Clubcard deal. But its unit price - 50p per 100g - was not given.

However, a 910g bottle of the same ketchup, which was selling for just one price of £3.99, worked out at 43.8p per 100g, meaning the larger bottle was better value.

Which? says Tesco does not explain its unit prices clearly enough, making it hard for shoppers to find the cheapest product.

This could be a "misleading practice" under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs), Which? says, and it has reported Tesco to the CMA. Tesco says it complies with all rules and Which?'s claims are "unfounded".

Sue Davies, head of food policy at Which? told the BBC it was "simply not good enough" and Tesco must "think of its customers". She added: "They have a duty to ensure pricing is clear so that customers can get the best value. Tesco's unclear Clubcard pricing is at best confusing for shoppers struggling with soaring food inflation and at worst, could be breaking the law."

Sainsbury's offers similar discounts to its Nectar card members, but does include the unit price on its labels.

The CMA is already investigating claims supermarkets were using soaring inflation as an opportunity to raise prices even higher than necessary.

Food inflation remains staggeringly high - 19.1% in 12 months to April 2023, according to the ONS. This is the highest inflation in 45 years.

It is the main driver of inflation, and is harming the Government's aim of halving inflation this year.

NimbleFins previously reported the Government was considering imposing a voluntary price cap on essential foods at supermarkets.

In a statement, Which? said: "Under the CPRs, retailers must also avoid 'unfair commercial practices'.

"Which? believes under these rules unit prices could be seen as 'material information' which most people would need in order to make an informed decision about how to get the best value from what they are buying.

"Which? has found issues with unit pricing across all supermarkets but Tesco stands out as it consistently omits unit pricing from Clubcard offers, which now account for almost all promotions it offers on groceries."

Tesco rejected that it was breaking the law and said it had approval from trading standards officers.

A spokesperson said: "Providing great value and clear pricing is really important to us, we are supportive of calls for greater clarity on the regulations in this area," it said.

"However, given that we are complying with all the current rules, we are disappointed that Which? has chosen to make these ill-founded claims against our Clubcard Prices scheme, which helps millions of households get great value week in, week out."

Read more:

Image courtesy of / Roger Utting Photography.

Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.


NimbleFins Newsletter

Get energy alerts, deals, tips, news, and more!