Money Wellness
Image of a couple with shopping bags strolling down a street packed with shops
category iconcost of living
calendar icon04 Sep 2023

Government wages war on fake review and hidden fees to help cut the cost of living

The government has set out measures designed to clamp down on fake reviews, hidden charges, and confusing labels to help shoppers with rising living costs.

The measures come following research commissioned by Rishi Sunak which confirmed so-called ‘drip-pricing’ – where the price paid at checkout is higher than originally advertised due to extra, but necessary, fees – costs online shoppers £1.6 billion each year.

Drip-pricing was found to be used most widely in the transport and communication sectors, where three quarters (72%) of operators were applying additional charges. While over half of providers in the entertainment (54%) and hospitality (56%) industry also used the practice.  

As well as a clampdown on drip-pricing, the government is also launching two other initiatives today to stop fake reviews on websites and get rid of confusing labelling on goods, ensuring shoppers get a good and fair deal.

The initiatives include proposals to overhaul the Price Marking Order (PMO) by making retailers display the final selling price in a clear way, so that it’s easier for customers to know it they’re getting a good deal from a promotion or special offer.

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, commented on the proposals: “The measures being consulted on will help address longstanding concerns to help consumers make better informed decisions – whether shopping for products online or buying a weekly shop in the supermarket. Our research shows that fake reviews jeopardise consumer trust and are harmful to honest businesses that don’t purchase or incentivise people to post positive reviews.

“Customers also need clear pricing upfront when considering a product or service and should not find themselves having to pay for charges hidden until the checkout, like mandatory booking fees. Supermarkets also need to make it easy to compare the unit price of everyday items to help consumers make informed choices during the cost-of-living crisis.”

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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