Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has been accused of “misleading” shoppers and ignoring government guidelines by exaggerating discounts.
Channel 4’s one-hour programme, Dispatches: The Secrets of Sports Direct, which aired on April 27, claimed the original prices of goods were hiked up to lead customers to believe they were getting a bargain.
Consumer law consultant Deborah Parry told the programme Sports Direct could be in breach of the law. She said the sports giant’s labelling did not follow government guidelines, which state products must have been on sale at an original price for at least 28 days before a discounted price is displayed.
Other tactics used by Sports Direct to lure shoppers into stores included holding a ‘closing down Sale’ in one shop when it was relocating around the corner. When Dispatches later visited the new store, products were being sold at the same prices as they were during the Sale.
In a statement, Sports Direct said: “We take any allegation that we may have breached consumer protection or employment regulations very seriously.
“Dispatches has chosen not to provide us with full details of their complaints and did not offer sufficient time for us to investigate and respond. The programme relates to alleged events going back to July 2014 and yet the company was only given a week to respond. This means it has been impossible for us to assess Dispatches’ complaints properly.
“It seems clear, however, that Dispatches has selected only a tiny minority of discounted products from the thousands that pass through Sports Direct’s retail channels at any one time.”
“Our intention is to continue to bring our customers exceptional value for money and that they continue to get the most competitive prices. We continue to monitor our promotions to help achieve this.”
The programme, which was filmed between July 2014 and early 2015, also identified challenging working conditions for Sports Direct’s warehouse staff, many of whom are on zero-hours contracts.
The statement said: “In respect of staff working in our warehouse, Sports Direct provides working conditions in
compliance with applicable employment legislation.”