Case reference: CRE-E/27863, CRE-E/27864
These investigations were opened by the OFT as part of its work to address pricing practices that act as a barrier to fair choice and effective competition. The theme is a priority in the OFT's Annual Plan 2013/2014 and builds upon the findings of the Advertising of Prices market study published by the OFT in December 2010 which identified a number of harmful pricing practices.
The OFT was concerned that certain pricing practices might be misleading consumers.
The Enterprise Act 2002 ('EA02'); the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008; and the Price Marking Order 2004.
Summary of work
In April 2012 the OFT opened investigations into the pricing and advertising practices of a number of businesses operating in the carpet and flooring sectors.
In August 2012 some of the investigations were closed; one business was found to be using trade logos in a way that was considered to be potentially misleading and this was closed after the business accepted guidance and immediately changed its website. The other investigations were closed on administrative priority grounds.
In the course of the continuing investigation the OFT sent information requests to the businesses under section 224 of the EA02. All the businesses have co-operated with the OFT investigations.
United Carpets have signed undertakings to address the OFTs concerns.
Nixon & Hope Limited has agreed to amend its website to ensure that any price advantages claimed are accurate. It has also agreed to address the OFT's concerns by ensuring where a price is indicated to consumers a clear, unambiguous selling price inclusive of VAT will be given. The amendment to the website will be completed in February 2014.
The OFT expects businesses in this sector using similar practices to those that have been considered to be misleading to change their practices accordingly.
Although the OFT has now closed its formal investigation, it will monitor future conduct, keeping the sector under review to ensure compliance with the undertakings and relevant legislation.
- Press release Two carpet and flooring firms change pricing practices after OFT investigation (23 January 2014)
- United Carpets Group Plc undertakings (pdf 899kb)