Tesco could be prosecuted for out-of-date labels

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Tesco could be prosecuted for displaying out-of-date promotions on its shelves
Tesco could be prosecuted for displaying out-of-date promotions on its shelves

Related tags Management Promotion

Tesco’s failure to remove out-of-date promotional labels from its shelves is a criminal regulatory offence, which could lead to fines – and even imprisonment of individuals found guilty, a law firm has claimed.

An investigation by the BBC’s Inside Out ​programme found out-of-date promotions and offers had been left on shelves, leading consumers to being over –charged at the checkout.

Up to two-thirds of stores visited – 33 of 50 – were advertising offers that had expired, but discounts were not applied when scanned.

Listed below are three examples of price promotions that were not removed from shelves, found during the BBC’s investigation of Tesco.

Katie Vickery, partner at law firm Osborne Clarke, said the investigation – which aired on February 13 – had highlighted an apparent systems failure by Tesco, which could be viewed as a criminal regulatory offence.

Criminal regulatory offence

“Sanctions can include a fine and imprisonment of individuals,”​ added Vickery. “In December last year, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute released its new guidance on pricing practices, but many retailers have missed the fact that businesses must now have robust systems in place to self-assess whether a price promotion is fair.

“No longer can retailers rely on the set of well-known rules prescribed in previous guidance. Tesco, and other retailers, must be prepared to demonstrate that they have effective written systems and procedures but – most importantly – that the systems work.”

Vickery said that businesses needed to take a proactive approach to managing their price promotional activity or risk prosecution.

Risk prosecution

A Tesco spokesman said the retailer was “extremely disappointed” ​with the findings and apologised for the errors.

“It’s really important to us that we offer clear and accurate price labels for all our customers, and we have since conducted a comprehensive and detailed review of our processes in store, including double-checking every price label to make sure they’re correct.

“Where pricing errors have been brought to our attention we have honoured the lower price and refunded customers.”

Tesco said it would double-check the accuracy of the price labels in all its stores and asked staff to ensure price label routines were always followed.  A duty manager would now attend all price-labelling complaints.


Tesco promotions not removed from shelves

  • Rustlers Chicken Sub
  • Offer price:­ ​two for £3 (original price £2.31 each)
  • Price paid at till​: £4.62


  • Schwartz Barbecue Sauce Mix
  • Offer price:­​ two for £1 (original price 85p each)
  • Price paid at till:​ £1.70


  • Old El Paso Guacamole
  • Offer price:­​ two for £2.50 (original price £2.09 each)
  • Price paid at till:​ £4.18

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