I just had to report this story about a pensioner, Daphne Smallman, who complained over Tesco’s ‘false and misleading’ strawberry prices, which gave the company a £2.32m profit in 2011 but a £300,000 fine yesterday.
It was early June 2011 when the old girl was given a lift to her local Tesco by her friend Gwenda to do the weekly shop. Two years to bring Tesco to book.
Anyway ‘ball and chalking’(walking) round the Sheldon branch of Tesco in Birmingham the 76-year-old noticed a 400g punnet of strawberries advertised at the “half price” of £1.99.
She asked staff when the fruit had ever been available at its claimed previous, crossed-out prices of £2.99 or £3.99, believing she was being misled about how good a bargain she was really getting she complained. Tesco never got back to her, no surprise there then.
The old girl didn’t give up so she got on to local trading standards officials about the strawberries and yesterday a judge at Birmingham Crown Court criticised the supermarket chain for running “a false and misleading” promotion that might have duped hundreds of thousands nationwide.
Judge Michael Chambers QC heard that Tesco had only sold the strawberries at £3.99 and then £2.99 for two weeks, while the half-price promotion had lasted for 14 weeks, breaching Consumer Protection rules and best industry practice. Under the pricing practices guide, the lower price sale should not last longer than the time the higher price was available.
The court was told that Tesco’s strawberry sales quadrupled over the course of the 14-week “promotion”. The chain was estimated to have made a profit of £2.32 million across its 2,300 stores.
Judge Chambers said: “The effect on turnover was dramatic. The figures speak for themselves. The promotion was not a genuine bargain. It was false and misleading.”
This is the sad bit, Mrs Smallman was not in court to hear the verdict against Tesco. She died in February. Power to the people, as ‘Wolfie Smith’ would say.