A shopper was shocked to find an item on sale on in a town centre store for more than 60 per cent above its recommended retail price.
John Ogden of Lytham was attracted into the WH Smith shop in St Annes by a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer on Hewlett Packard inkjet cartridges – only to find that the price of an individual cartridge was £42, compared to the RRP he saw advertised by HP as £24.
“I thought the numbers had been transposed,” said Mr Ogden, who promptly wrote to WH Smith to query the matter and also took it up with Trading Standards officials after buying the cartridge he needed elsewhere.
A WH Smith customer service co-ordinator wrote back to Mr Ogden to say that the item was correctly priced at their stores at £42, adding: “The recommended retail price printed on the product is a recommendation made by the supplier. However, we are at liberty to mark up this item at a price we want to sell it for.”
Mr Ogden termed WH Smith’s pricing of the item “an absolute swindle” but the store giant’s stance has been backed by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service, whose manager Amanda Maxim said: “Retailers can set whatever prices they think appropriate, with their main responsibilities being to make sure pricing information is clear and includes VAT so that consumers can make meaningful comparisons with goods for sale elsewhere.
“In this instance, while the price was higher than the consumer anticipated, the price was made clear so no further action could be taken by Trading Standards.”
A spokesman for WH Smith said: “We are committed to offering our customers a wide selection of products and value for money. With such a large range of products available in store, we structure our prices and promotions to reflect customer demand.”