There are specific laws that control how goods and services are priced.
Whether buying on the high street or online, the Price Marking Order 2004 says that prices must be clearly displayed, without you needing to ask to see them, they must be legible, unambiguous, and inclusive of any VAT or other taxes.
Pricing information must be given close to the product, or in the case of distance contracts such as online or mail order, and advertisements, close to a picture or written description of the product.
Prices can be shown:
- on goods themselves
- on a ticket or notice near to the goods
- grouped together with other prices on a list or catalogue(s) kept close to the goods.
Unit pricing exists so that you can compare products by their price per weight or volume, e.g. price per 100g. Unit pricing must be available by law for products that are:
- Sold loose, such as fruit and vegetables; or
- Required by the Weights and Measures Act 1985 to be marked with an indication of quantity or sold in a prescribed quantity.
Note: This legislation only applies to larger retailers, smaller shops do not need to display unit prices.
The law makes it illegal for businesses to mislead you about the price of an item.
Misleading pricing information can be given in a number of ways. The following are some examples:
- The price shown on a shelf edge label or a price ticket is lower than the price actually charged at the till;
- Incomplete information is given about the price;
- Not all charges, such as VAT or a call-out charge, are included in the price quoted; and
- False information is given when making comparisons with other prices (e.g. in a sale).
Despite it being a criminal offence, if an item has been marked incorrectly with the wrong price, e.g. the shelf label says £1.50 but the item scans at £1.80, you cannot demand that the retailer sells you the item at the lower price. If a business regularly prices items incorrectly, this may be something Trading Standards Service will want to investigate.
Paying by debit or credit card
The Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012 (amended by the Payment Services Regulations 2017) mean a trader is not allowed to charge you for paying for goods and services by credit or debit card.
How to complain
If you find a trader is not displaying prices, or you think prices are displayed incorrectly, or you have been misled about pricing, contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262 or visit: www.nidirect.gov.uk/consumerline