CHICAGO (CBS) — Major retailers are duping consumers with deceptive sales pitches, a consumer group found.
Consumers Checkbook conducted a 10-month investigation, tracking prices on big-ticket items at major retailers. It found that 17 of the 19 companies were offering faux discounts. In reality, those items offered at steep discounts had actually been “on sale” for the same price in past weeks.
In some cases, the group found, the “sale price” never ended, CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.
“Checkbook believes that by constantly offering items at sale prices—and rarely if ever offering them at regular prices—many retailers engage in deceptive advertising,” the study concluded.
The investigation found some stores’ pricing strategies are worse than others.
JCPenney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Sears offered the items at sale prices more than 75 percent of the time. At Neiman Marcus and Sears, 10 of the items at each retailer were on sale every time for 10 months.
“The stores are running those special-but-not-really-special discounts … to manipulate you into buying items right away,” the study concluded.
Several retailers issued statements to CBS 2:
“JCPenney uses a promotional pricing model employed often in the retail industry. Under this promotional pricing model, any time an item is put on sale the item must have been previously sold at its original or regular price for a reasonable period of time. We are committed to delivering the quality, price and value that customers expect from JCPenney.”
“Sears disagrees with any suggestion that its pricing is misleading or deceptive. Sears is focused on providing its members with great prices on a wide variety of products and services. We do not publicly discuss the details of our pricing strategy, however we can confirm that Sears complies with applicable pricing and advertising laws.”
“At Macy’s, our pricing cadence varies for each item, based on the nature and seasonality of the merchandise, its family of business, and customer response. Some items rarely go on sale prior to clearance; others, particularly seasonal fashion items, go on sale more frequently as part of promotional or clearance events.”
“We’re strongly committed to pricing integrity at Nordstrom and we want to be honest and transparent with our customers. Our goal is to ensure our sales offer genuine, limited time savings for our customers.”
“We [Home Depot] disagree with the study because it appears they may have counted our price markdowns, “everyday low price” and “new lower price” items, or seasonal and clearance markdowns. In fact, we rarely have sales because we’re an everyday low price retailer.”