Tesco fined £300,000 over misleading strawberries offer

 

It was a case of David versus Goliath nearly two years in the making, but Daphne Smallman struck a mighty blow for consumers for consumers yesterday as supermarket giant Tesco was fined £300,000 after admitting it mislead customers over a half-price offer on punnets of strawberries.

The action was brought by Birmingham City Council's trading standards department after the issue was brought to their attention by Ms Smallman after shopping in the city’s Sheldon branch, although it was then extended across Tesco’s 2,300 stores in England and Wales.

The case at Birmingham Crown Court, found that at various points in the summer of 2011 Tesco sold 400g punnets of strawberries for £1.99 with prices of £2.99 and £3.99 crossed out. The offer lasted for 14 weeks, with the higher price of £3.99 available for a shorter length of time, breaching guidelines set out the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008, which prohibits such a practice.

Judge Michael Chambers called the offer “patently wrong, with the supermarket also being told it had to pay £65,000 in costs.

However, Ms Smallman, who was described as “tenacious” in court, did not see the end of her fight against the supermarket, having died earlier this year.

Sajeela Naseer, head of trading standards for Birmingham City Council, said “This is not only a victory for Birmingham customers, it also has wider benefits for all consumers across the country.

”It was the council's case, confirmed by Tesco's guilty pleas, that this was a misleading offer which deceived the purchasers of strawberries over many weeks during the summer of 2011.”

In a statement Tesco said: “We apologise sincerely for this mistake, which was made in the summer of 2011. We sell over 40,000 products in our stores, with thousands on promotion at any one time, but even one mistake is one too many.

“Since then, to make sure this doesn’t happen again we’ve given colleagues additional training and reminded them of their responsibilities to ensure we always adhere to the guidelines on pricing.”

Richard Lloyd, the executive director of consumer watchdog Witch?, which said it had supplied evidence to Birmingham trading standards after its own investigation into supermarket special offers said: “It's unacceptable that shoppers are misled into thinking they're getting a good deal with a special offer when that might not be the case.

”Tesco's hefty fine sends a clear signal to supermarkets to play fair and make sure that their special offers really are special.“

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Adviser - OTE £24,500

£22500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound and outbound calls with...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £40,000

£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...

Guru Careers: Research Associate / Asset Management Research Analyst

£40 - 45k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Research Associate / Research Anal...

The Green Recruitment Company: Graduate Energy Analyst

£20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Summary: The Green Recruitm...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash