The View from the UK: Supermarket giant Tesco Stores has been fined £300k sterling  following a prosecution by Birmingham City Council about misleading the public on a ‘half price’ offer regarding punnets of strawberries.

At Birmingham Crown Court today the retailer was prosecuted under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008, according to a statement from Birmingham City Council this afternoon.

During various dates in summer 2011, Tesco sold 400g punnets of British strawberries marked as ‘half price’ – £1.99 with the previous prices of £2.99 and £3.99 crossed out. Under the pricing practices guide, the length of the new lower price sale should not be more than which the old higher price was available. Tesco’s offer (at £1.99) ran for 14 weeks. Its original higher price strawberries (£3.99) were sold for a much shorter length of time.

Tesco then proceeded to create a further offer relating to 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’. This offer had no mention of a previous price and the strawberries were then back on sale at £1.99 without the pot of cream with the indication that they were once again ‘half price.’

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Birmingham City Council argued both offers were presented in a way that mislead or was likely to deceive the average consumer. The price or the manner in which the price had been calculated was likely to cause the average consumer to make a transactional decision that they would not otherwise have made.

“This is not only a victory for Birmingham customers it also has wider benefits for all consumers across the country,” said head of trading standards for Birmingham City Council, Sajeela Naseer.