By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

February 9, 2022 | 2 min read

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched its first-ever consumer campaign, ‘The Online Rip-Off Tip-Off’, in the hopes of educating consumers on misleading online sales tactics.

Created in collaboration with its newly appointed behavior change agency 23red, the integrated campaign is fronted by consumer champion Angellica Bell who shines a light on the sneaky practices used by some online retailers, such as pressure selling, subscription traps, hidden charges and fake reviews.

23red has also produced an advice-led film fronted by Bell that translates the online marketplace into the real world to highlight how to spot and avoid sneaky sales tactics.

Research by the CMA, with the help of with YouGov, found that seven out of 10 shoppers had experienced misleading online practices. The findings revealed 85% believe that businesses using these practices were being dishonest with their customers, while 83% would be less likely to buy from them in the future as a result.

Anthony Wright, the director of communications at the CMA, comments: “This campaign is designed to help consumers spot the sneaky tactics used by some online retailers that we simply wouldn’t accept in the real world. Tactics like subscription traps and hidden charges infuriate people, which is why I think this campaign will resonate. Others won’t realize how much these tactics influence what we buy online, so it’s important we shine a spotlight on them and hand the power back to shoppers.

“We continue to crack down on anything that could break the law, such as fake reviews. But to tackle this problem from all angles, it’s vital people are also armed with the tools they need to shop in a more informed way online.”

The campaign – which spans across PR, paid, digital, social media and broadcast channels – has the support of Citizens Advice, to whom consumers can report problems with misleading practices they have encountered online.

The ’Online Rip-off Tip-off’ campaign is part of the CMA’s wider commitment to tackling misleading advertising and communications in the UK. Other recent initiatives by the body include its Green Claims Code tackling greenwashing and misleading environmental claims by brands.

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