ASA clears Tesco of Price Promise complaint
Published:  31 July, 2013

Tesco has been cleared of a complaint made by Sainsbury’s, that accused it of unfairly comparing supermarket prices.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) cleared the supermarket after Sainsbury’s claimed Tesco’s Price Promise promotion did not take into account that own-brands, although basic, would not be of equal sourcing and quality.

The ASA overruled the complaint and stated: “While we acknowledged there would be differences in animal welfare and country of origin for the ingredients, we were satisfied that Tesco had taken those elements into account when identifying and matching products and had compared on the basis of them meeting the same need.”

Sainsbury’s hit back at earlier claims from Tesco’s marketing director David Wood, who said ethical considerations “may play a minor part” to customers, but were not key to the decision-making process.

Due to the recent contamination scandal, Sainsbury’s claimed these allegations were not true, as consumers had shown a bigger interest in the origins of food in the aftermath of the scandal, which did not affect Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury’s explained that Tesco compared its everyday value ham with Sainsbury’s basics ham, which are priced the same.

However, Sainsbury’s argued that its ham was sourced from the UK, whereas Tesco’s ham was sourced from somewhere in the EU. “They’re not the same product,” argued Sainsbury’s commercial director Michael Coupe.

Wood said the supermarket wass delighted that it was cleared of the complaint and that the scheme benefited its customers.

He said: “Price Promise is a simple proposition. It says that however you shop, whatever food products you shop for, we’ll compare your basket of shopping to our competitors’ prices and if your comparable grocery shopping would be cheaper elsewhere we will give you a voucher instantly at the checkout, to use next time.”

Coupe added: “The Tesco Price Promise claims to be a fair comparison which makes sense to shoppers. Unfortunately it is anything but. By failing to compare own brands fairly it is taking power away from customers to make accurate and informed choices about the food they put in their baskets. Worse, it undermines their ability to make a choice based on the values they believe in.”

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