Office of Fair Trading
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OFT seeks views ahead of study into advertising and pricing

The OFT is to conduct a market study looking at the impact on consumers from potentially misleading advertising and pricing of goods and services, and is asking interested individuals, businesses and other organisations for their views on the scope of the study.

Read more about the Advertising and pricing market study.

The study will look at the application of consumer law to advertising and pricing, with a particular focus on the internet. It will evaluate which online and offline pricing and advertising practices have potential to be most detrimental to consumers, and may also look at the use of personal information in advertising and pricing - in particular, where information from a consumer's online activity is used to target the internet advertising he or she receives. 

Heather Clayton, Senior Director of the OFT's Consumer Market Group said:

'The way that businesses advertise and price goods and services constantly evolves, and we need to keep up to date on how consumers view these adverts, and the types of advertising and prices which may mislead.

'Before starting our study, we want to understand from consumer groups, businesses and other organisations which areas they think we should focus on.'

The market study is expected to commence in the autumn, and the OFT will be contacting some key parties directly. Other interested parties can submit their written views to advertisingandpricing@oft.gsi.gov.uk by 18 September 2009.

NOTES

1. OFT market studies are carried out under section 5 of the Enterprise  Act 2002 (EA02) which allows a market-wide consideration of both competition and consumer issues.

2. Possible outcomes of a market study include:

  • giving the relevant market a clean bill of health
  • publishing information to help consumers
  • encouraging firms to take voluntary action
  • encouraging an industry code of practice
  • making recommendations to the Government or to sector regulators
  • investigation and enforcement action against companies suspected of breaching consumer or competition law
  • a market investigation reference to the Competition Commission.

3. The OFT is unable to provide advice or resolve individual complaints for consumers. Consumers can seek advice from Consumer Direct (tel: 08454 04 05 06, www.consumerdirect.gov.uk).