H. Samuel has conceded it “fell short” of the high standards it sets itself after receiving a £60,000 fine for misleading customers about price information presented on its website.
The high street jeweller is currently taking steps to tighten internal procedures following its appearance at Torfaen Magistrates court earlier this month.
As revealed by Professional Jeweller on Friday, the retailer’s parent company Signet Trading Limited pleaded guilty to 17 breaches of Consumer Protection regulations after rings were advertised at prices which suggested customers were getting a bigger bargain than they were.
At the hearing, the court heard H. Samuel’s website failed to inform consumers that items had previously been on offer for sale at lower prices since the price they were compared against.
In a statement issued to Professional Jeweller, Signet said it accepted a fine for the breaches and was working to ensure it doesn’t fall foul of the regulations again.
“We are grateful to the court in this case for recognising our positive good character and the fact that we were swiftly addressing the shortcomings identified prior to the commencement of legal proceedings,” the company stated.
“We have accepted certain charges that stem from a prior version of our website being unable to display the full details of certain promotions. We recognise that this fell short of the high standards against which we hold ourselves.”
The charges that Signet accepted all relate to the company’s ‘Forever Diamond’ range of rings on offer for sale on the H. Samuel website between November 2017 and June 2018.
While the online sale of the discounted rings amounted to £200,000, the actual gain by the company amounted to just £6,500, it was revealed in court.
H. Samuel said it is working to make sure that its policies for online pricing are water-tight from here on.
“We have taken additional steps to enhance our procedures and will continue to work in partnership with our Trading Standards Primary Authority to ensure we are clear in our communication as we continue help our customers celebrate life and express love,” the company said.
The case sends a clear warning to other jeweller retailers about the complexities of online pricing regulations and the use of ‘reference prices’ and ‘intervening prices’.
Reference pricing refers to price promotions which aim to demonstrate good value by referring to another, typically higher, price.
Retailers must also show ‘intervening prices’ where an item has been on sale at a price lower than the higher ‘reference’ price.
In many cases the highest reference price is not always the last price the item was sold at. In both situations, customers can be misled into whether they think they are receiving a proper bargain.
With H. Samuel’s ring promotion, a reference price of £2,599 was used to promote the scale of the discount on offer. During November, the ring was actually on sales for £1,299 (the intervening price) but when it went on sale in December it did not state the November price, just the high earlier price.
H. Samuel claimed the December sale saving was £1,429.90 but using November’s intervening price the saving was actually £129.90.