The Tesco strawberries case — what did Tesco do wrong?

In 2011, a pensioner complained to Trading Standards after seeing a punnet of strawberries on sale in Tesco for £1.99, marked down to half price from £3.99 per punnet. She asked staff whether the punnets had ever been on sale at the higher price. The staff did not respond.

Birmingham Trading Standards brought a case against Tesco under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The regulations prohibit traders from using unfair commercial practices towards consumers that prevent them from making free and properly informed decisions in relation to the promotion, sale or supply of consumer products. A commercial practice is misleading if ‘it or its overall presentation in any way deceives or is likely to deceive the average consumer’.

Misleading acts or omissions are unfair commercial practices under the regulations. A misleading action contains false information or in some way deceives (or is likely to deceive) the average consumer and a misleading omission is when a trader omits or hides material information that the average consumer needs to make a properly informed decision…

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