The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the body responsible for promoting competitive markets and tackling unfair behaviour in the UK, has published an open letter to online businesses around the use of urgency and price reduction claims. The CMA notes that the publication of the letter is due to concerns around misleading claims and pressure on consumers to make purchases, leading to market distortion and unfairly prejudicing fair-dealing businesses. The CMA has issued the letter to help businesses comply with their legal obligations and in particular The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
The CMA defines urgency claims as a scarcity, popularity, ‘act fast’ or time limited claim that is presented to consumers online. For example, a pop-up banner with the words “10 people are viewing this item now, act fast!” or “act fast, don’t miss out, only 2 hours to go”.
The letter encourages all online businesses selling to consumers to review the Examples of Non Compliance section against current practices to ensure that each website claim can be properly substantiated. Proper records should be kept to show that any claim is reflective of actual selling conditions. For a complete list of the actions that the CMA recommends online businesses take, follow this link.