The Advertising Standards Authority has ordered Morrisons to clarify its price comparisons under its loyalty card scheme.
In October, the UK's fourth largest supermarket launched its Match & More loyalty card programme, where customers earn points if parts of a shop would have been cheaper at another supermarket. The points are then transferred to money-off vouchers that are printed at the till.
However, critics of the scheme have said that it is too complicated and that the supermarket does not provide customers with enough information about where they could get better deals.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) was brought in to investigate following a number of complaints from discount grocer Aldi – one of the rival supermarkets that Morrisons compares its prices to – as well as the public.
The complaints included:
- Morrisons could not compare some products because they were too different
- The company did not make clear all of the elements of the scheme
- A £15 minimum spend was necessary
- That credit would be awarded in points, rather than cash
- Points were awarded for the overall difference on an entire shop, rather than individual items
Following a ten-month investigation, the ASA told Morrisons that it must clearly tell customers where they could find more details about the Match & More scheme – specifically, how points relating to the scheme had been awarded for a specific shop and which products have been compared with which competitor.
The ASA dismissed most of the issues. In a 13-page ruling, it explained: "We concluded that the ads did not misleadingly omit information or give a misleading impression of how the price-match scheme worked.
"We further concluded that, because Morrisons compared products that met the same need or were intended for the same purpose and the products were matched in-line with consumer expectations and Morrisons' guidelines, the ads were not misleading and did not breach the [advertising] code on that basis."
The ASA also said that the way Morrisons compared products had been consistent.
However, the watchdog upheld one complaint – that Morrisons had breached the advertising code because it did not provide sufficient information for customers and competitors to verify its claim the loyalty card matched prices against Aldi, as well as Lidl, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.
"We did not consider Morrisons had provided a clearly signposted facility for customers who had shopped with them to obtain readily, specific details of what products had been compared, and what prices, to explain how the points total had been calculated," it concluded.
Morrisons chief executive David Potts, who joined the company in March, said the loyalty scheme is under review.
On Wednesday afternoon (August 26th), Morrions shares were up 0.96 per cent to 168.50p.
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