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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Monday 9 January 2017


If you have read Breaking Law, you will know about misleading price labelling and your remedies when you have been misled by it. Well, my campaign for fairer labelling continues unabated. I have had correspondence with Marks & Spencer on the topic (see chapter 39). I have had to renew it.

From Stephen Gold
08 January 2017
To M&S Service Team
I have a bugbear. It concerns misleading price labels. I exchanged emails with you on the subject in February 2016. The reference was 310957. I then complained that the where your displayed greeting cards were available at a price that included pence then the pence were shown on the label in a substantially smaller font than the pounds and in substantially less bold print. Your response was sympathetic and understanding. You seemed to be agreeing with me and gave me every indication that the matter would be addressed.

I was back at your Richmond, Surrey store yesterday and in the course of selecting a card for the occasion of my Aunt Vera’s birthday. I handed one which caught my eye to my companion for a second she has opinion and commented that the price of £1 was very reasonable. My companion pointed out that the label showed - just about - a price of £1.50.  I like to think that I am blessed with reasonable powers of observation and that my eyesight aided by spectacles (I had taken delivery of a brand new pair of specs with slightly stronger lenses albeit not falling into the Mr Magoo category only 30 minutes earlier and was wearing them). Nevertheless, I was deceived. It just did not occur to me that almost one year after my original complaint you would be carrying on exactly as before. The focal point of the price label is the pound sign and the figure which adjoins it. This is how you intend it to be but there can be no legitimate justification for printing the pence figures which follow in  a form which in size and thickness is so less prominent than the pounds. I reproduce below two photographs I took yesterday of the display in question. Do look, for example, at the card with the £2.75 label. Why is 75p so insignificant compared with the £2? In value, it represents a large proportion of the total price. If you regard pence as inconsequential then do not add them the pounds!

I have to suggest to you that the only conclusion which can be reached in the circumstances is that your card price labelling where pence are involved is calculated to induce the belief among your potential card purchasers that the price intended to be charged is limited to whole pounds  or, at the very least, is calculated to excite their interest in such a card on a false premise.  I regard this as immoral and a prohibited practice within the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 as amended. 

I welcome your urgent observations on the above and your assurance that the practice about which I  complain will cease forthwith, Please do not soft soap me with assurances of your commitment to customers or promises that your Stationary/Card team will be considering my comments at their next beano in 2018. This is serious stuff and demands serious attention at the highest level of your organisation. For the avoidance of any doubt, I am NOT after any gift card or a free coffee and doughnut for my trouble.

Yours sincerely

Stephen Gold

From M&S
09 January 2016
Hi Stephen
Thank you for getting back in touch; I hope you're well.
With our labelling for our cards, we have inherited a marketing scheme that the majority of retailers use in which the pence is smaller that the pound cost on the cards.
I can understand why you are unhappy with this, if I have noticed the way the pricing is displayed, I probably wouldn't be happy about it either.
We take every complaint we receive equally as important as each other, our suppliers and marketing team are constantly reviewing every aspect of our products to see what can be done to improve on it, if it is necessary.
I have submitted a report directly to them, an internal investigation and review will be done and any changes that need to be made will be if it is necessary.
I am sorry that the labelling of our cards has made you feel deceived, I promise you that is not our intention.
Have a lovely evening.
Kind regards

Retail Customer Services
Your M&S Customer Service

I'll let you know how it goes.
In the meantime-
Happy Birthday
Congratulations on your Anniversary
Get well soon
Best of luck with the exams
Bon Voyage

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