Ads comparing prices are common, but you could risk arrest for the same practice

News last week that a Guardian journalist was told he was breaking the law for writing down the prices of some bottled water certainly underlines the lengths that many multiples will go to to protect themselves.

Patrick Collinson was noting down the price points of some Highland Spring sparkling water when a store manager asked him “Excuse me, what are you doing?” After explaining, Mr Collinson was shocked to be told “You’re not allowed to do that. It’s illegal. Where are you from? Are you from the media?”

While in this case, yes Mr Collinson was from the media, it seems quite strange that any individual could be stopped and given such a hard time for simply checking prices.

The managers of the branch eventually conceded that perhaps this wasn’t against the laws of the land, but certainly did contravene company policy. The only way one would be allowed to check the prices would be to “take the item to the till and pay for it there. The price will be on the receipt.”

So while you might risk being thrown out by security guards if you attempt to benchmark your prices against the Tesco down the road, one wonders how exactly the multiples go about creating their much-heralded price comparison adverts, like the one pictured here?

Presumably, as the Tesco manager suggested, they buy all of the products and check the receipts? No wonder the multiples are all turning over so much each year!