Press release

CMA receives super-complaint from Which?

The CMA has today received a super-complaint from Which? in respect of perceived concerns about misleading and opaque pricing practices in the grocery market.

Supermarket with trolley

Which? has identified 3 potential areas of concern that it would like the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate:

  • confusing and misleading special offers
  • a lack of easily comparable prices due to the way unit pricing is being done
  • shrinking pack sizes without any corresponding price reduction

Which? is also concerned about the impact of supermarket ‘price match’ schemes on consumer decision-making.

The CMA will now consider the issues raised in the super-complaint in order to establish whether any element, or combination of elements, in the relevant market is or appears to be significantly harming the interests of consumers. It will publish a response to the super-complaint within 90 days.

Possible outcomes include:

  • recommending the quality and accessibility of information for consumers is improved
  • encouraging businesses in the market to self-regulate
  • making recommendations to government to change the legislation or public policy
  • taking competition or consumer enforcement action
  • instigating a market investigation or market study
  • a clean bill of health

The above list is not exhaustive and it should also be noted that a super-complaint could generate more than one outcome depending on the issues raised.

The CMA will shortly invite interested parties to provide any evidence which may be useful to its assessment. More details will be available on the case page in due course.

Notes for editors

  1. The Enterprise Act 2002 (the Act) makes provision for designated consumer bodies to make super-complaints. A super-complaint, as defined by section 11(1) of the Act, is a complaint submitted by a designated consumer body that ‘any feature, or combination of features, of a market in the United Kingdom for goods or services is or appears to be significantly harming the interests of consumers’. Which? is a designated consumer body. Within 90 days after the day on which a super-complaint is received, the CMA must say publicly how it proposes to deal with it.
  2. The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law. From 1 April 2014 it took over the functions of the Competition Commission and the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading, as amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.
  3. Enquiries should be directed to Rory Taylor (rory.taylor@cma.gsi.gov.uk, 020 3738 6798) or Simon Belgard (simon.belgard@cma.gsi.gov.uk, 020 3738 6472).
  4. For more information on the CMA see our homepage or follow us on Twitter @CMAgovuk, Flickr and LinkedIn. Sign up to our email alerts to receive updates on markets cases.
Published 21 April 2015