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CMA launches campaign to tackle misleading sales tactics

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is the UK’s principal competition and consumer protection authority. Having commenced a programme of work looking at how online businesses present choices to consumer in 2002, the CMA has now launched a new phase of its campaign, urging consumers to report businesses that engage in misleading sale tactics via a digital reporting form. 

The CMA has also published a letter to businesses detailing its ‘online red lines’ on misleading urgency claims and price reduction claims, which are used as types of pressure selling.

The purpose of the letter is to help online businesses understand their obligations under consumer protection law when making urgency claims and/or price reduction claims online. Businesses must not use urgency or price reduction claims that are misleading or put unfair pressure on consumers, as such tactics may lead to breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The letter to businesses sets out the CMA’s view on the legislation, and explains the stance the CMA is likely to take in any enforcement action.

At a time when general cost-of-living pressures have made consumers even more eager than ever to find the best deals and save money, given the campaign by the CMA, businesses should urgently review their practices to ensure compliance.

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As an online retailer, you may well have received a letter from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently telling you about its plans to crack down on what it calls ‘online rip-offs’.

In the next stage of its work into how information and choices are presented to consumers online, the CMA is looking to eliminate both misleading claims when it comes to price reductions and also unfair pressure-based selling tactics. 

These are just two examples of, what some would deem, sneaky sales tactics. However, PriceSpy has also witnessed other tactics that retailers should treat with caution before the CMA’s spotlight shifts focus. Here we detail five practices that may well cross the line.”