Dodgy discounts on electrical goods revealed

A new Which? investigation into special offers reveals the dodgy discounts on electrical products that deliver little or no real savings.

We tracked the prices of more than 100 electrical products online over six months at the major electrical goods retailers Amazon, Argos, Currys and John Lewis and found a number of dodgy deals.

Among the examples, we found:

  • Amazon selling a Canon EOS70D camera with lens for £967.99. The offer price, calculated from Amazon’s RRP of £1,239.99, claimed savings of £272. However, compared with Canon’s typical selling price of £959, you would have actually paid £8.99 more.
  • A Sony Bravia TV on offer at Currys for £579, with a claimed saving of £170 from the original price of £749. Despite them not breaking any official rules by using a sign showing when the higher price applied, Currys only sold this Sony set at the higher price for three weeks but the advertised ‘offer’ ran for seven months.
  • A Nikon D3300 24MP DSLR camera with lens at Argos, had the offer price reduced over time but kept comparing the savings you were making to the original price rather than the offer price from the previous month. However, Argos did make it clear the camera had been previously sold at a cheaper price.

Three in 10 (31%) consumers said they bought a product they hadn’t intended to because it was on special offer and two in five (41%) wait for offers before buying products.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“With many shoppers on the lookout for bargains this Christmas, we’ve found dodgy discounts that might lure people into buying something they could have found cheaper elsewhere. It’s time for the Government to force retailers to play fair by setting out new, clearer and tougher rules on special offers.”

Notes to editors

1.    We tracked the price of more than 100 products online over six months at Amazon, Argos, Currys and John Lewis – some were available in all shops, others only one. We asked a Which? consumer lawyer to assess the results.

2.    We surveyed 1,096 Which? members in September 2014 about their views on electrical offers.

3.    Which? launched a campaign to Make Special Offers Special in November 2013 calling for a change in the guidance. The Government has asked Trading Standards Institute to review the Pricing Practices Guide, which is currently being consulted on but progress has been slow.

4.    The full results of our investigation can be found here.

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