The latest report from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) revealed a number of big retailers coming under the cosh, with one of the most frequent complainers in the retail sector being the Dixons Group.
Dixons targeted its rivals Comet and Tiny Computers with complaints on pricing and availability. It lodged a protest with the ASA that a Comet deal for a Daewoo PC at #163;599.99 was unavailable when it checked at six Comet stores.
But the ASA refused to agree with Dixons that Comet had deliberately attempted to mislead customers or that the product systems were not available.
However, Tiny Computers did not fare so well. Dixons made four complaints against the high-street vendor, with the ASA agreeing with three of them.
The retailer was ordered to include the delivery charge, including VAT in advertised system pricing. It also had to retract the claim that its Home Value System was the cheapest 400MHz system available, following a challenge by Dixons that PC World was selling a 400MHz system for #163;28 less.
Other companies that received a rap on the knuckles from the ASA were Software Warehouse, for incorrect pricing on an advertisement, and Virgin Interactive for an advertisement that featured a crucifixion scene which was deemed "offensive and distressing" to Christians.
But Time Computers managed to fend off a complaint from the Consumer Association regarding claims it made about the speed of the Celeron 333MHz, compared with a Pentium II 333MHz.
An industry observer said: "The number of complaints is a measure of just how competitive the retail market has become."
He added: "Retailers are checking each other's deals all the time. Pricing policy is where all these companies are battling it out."
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