In 2012, the OFT opened formal investigations under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 to consider whether six furniture/carpet retailers were engaging in the use of misleading reference pricing. Reference prices advertise goods to consumers by including a reference to another, typically higher, past or future price (such as ‘Was £800, Now Half Price £400’ or ‘Now £400, After Event Price £800’). The OFT’s view was that the use of such reference prices could be misleading as they are likely to deceive the average consumer and influence their transactional decisions, contrary to the Consumer Protection Regulations.
Anneli Howard with Paul Harris QC and Anneliese Blackwood acted for Dreams plc in contesting the OFT’s allegations and in framing the commitments offered to resolve its concerns. The OFT closed its investigation in March 2014 following the commitments.
A copy of the OFT’s press release can be found at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140402142426/http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2014/19-14