Page last updated at 20:30 GMT, Thursday, 29 October 2009

Never-ending sales 'have to stop'

Sofa
Where can one find a full-price sofa these days?

The government has been urged to end the "myth" that furniture sales last only for a limited time.

Labour MP David Taylor told the Commons that it was "virtually impossible" to find sofas and armchairs at the full selling price.

Shoppers were being "misled" by television and newspaper advertisements, he added.

The government said laws to protect consumers were in place and retailers should look "very carefully" at them.

Mr Taylor, MP for North West Leicestershire, said shoppers were being "pressurised to make a snap decision" to avoid missing out on items advertised as bargains.

'Cynical come-on'

He added: "Despite some caveat in tiny print indecipherable to the naked eye, the discounted products are virtually impossible to find retailing at full price.

"So there is no way of knowing whether the discounted price represents a real saving for the potential consumer or just whether it is a cynical, deceitful come-on".

The Advertising Standards Authority had twice upheld complaints in the last year against DFS's half-price claims in TV adverts, ruling they were "misleading", Mr Taylor said.

Business Minister Kevin Brennan replied: "The law requires sales to be conducted honestly and fairly.

"We all love a bargain but sales certainly should not unfairly mislead consumers into believing they are getting a bargain when they are not."

He added: "We know that some consumers have the impression that some sales last all year round which makes it difficult to know whether the reductions claimed are genuine."

He said new pricing practices guidelines set out in the Consumer White Paper would tighten guidance.

"It says that the period of time for which the lower price will be available should not be so long that the comparison becomes misleading."

The higher price should also be "genuine" and one at which "significant amounts" of goods could be sold.

Mr Brennan added: "The powers are there, the enforcers can use them and any retailers who are engaging in these sorts of practices should look very carefully at them."



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