Store giant Tesco fined over strawberry pricing

Supermarket giant Tesco has been fined £300,000 for misleading the public over a half-price offer on punnets of strawberries.

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The company was ordered to pay the fine at Birmingham Crown Court after admitting misleading customers in 2011 by claiming punnets of British strawberries were half price for a longer period of time than they were sold at a higher amount.

In a prosecution brought by Birmingham City Council’s trading standards department, Tesco admitted offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008, the authority said yesterday.

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The case found that during various dates in summer 2011, Tesco sold 400g punnets of British strawberries marked as half price at £1.99, with the previous prices of £2.99 and £3.99 crossed out.

The offer ran for 14 weeks, whereas its original higher price of £3.99 was available for a shorter length of time. Under the pricing practices guide, the lower price sale should not last longer than the time the higher price was available.

Tesco then created a further offer for 400g punnets of British strawberries, which were on sale at £1.99 including a pot of cream – marked “£1.99 free fresh single cream 150ml”, the council said.

The offer had no mention of a previous price and the strawberries were then back on sale at £1.99 without the cream, with the indication that they were again half price. The case concerned a Tesco store in Sheldon, Birmingham, but was widened to stores nationally.

A Tesco spokeswoman apologised “sincerely”, saying: “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.”