Pricing

Introduction

In general, there are no controls on prices in Ireland. This means that, with a few exceptions (for example, pricing for utilities), there is no legislation clearly stating what the maximum or minimum price for a product or service should be. This is to promote competition amongst retailers and service providers and to prevent anti-competitive practices that may result in consumers paying higher prices.

There are however, strict rules about how information on pricing should be displayed so that you can compare prices and make an informed buying decision. There are also more specific rules for some businesses such as pubs, restaurants and hairdressers.

The main pricing rules are summarised below.

Pricing of products and services

The rules on pricing of products and services cover:

  • Clear and understandable pricing
  • Information about the total price
  • Prices to be tax-inclusive
  • Wrong or misleading pricing

Clear and understandable pricing for products

Traders must display the price of products in accordance with the EC (Requirements to Indicate Product Prices) Regulations 2002.

The Regulation requires that the selling price, the unit price (price per unit of measurement), and reduced prices (indicated by a fraction or a percentage of the previous price), must be:

  • Clearly visible and understandable for all products
  • Easily identifiable as being the price of that product
  • Near the product, or in the case of distance contracts (for example, online shopping) be near to the description of the product
  • Displayed in Euro – however, shops can also display prices in other currencies (for example, Sterling) and it does not have to be a direct conversion of the Euro price
  • Unit prices for products sold by weight, volume or measure must also be clearly shown (for example, price for litre or kilo, metre or square mile)

A common way for traders to display prices is by using a shelf edge label (SEL). However, if a trader does not have the equipment for printing SELs or for point-of-sale scanning, they can use price stickers on the goods, or just display a price list near the goods.

Information about the total price

Traders of products and services must provide information about the total price, including any taxes, and if there are extra charges (such as delivery or postal charges) under the European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013. Find out more about shopping online.

Prices to be tax-inclusive

Prices for products and services available to consumers must include all taxes, including Value Added Tax (VAT), under the Prices and Charges (Tax-Inclusive Statements) Order, 1973. For services such as phone or electricity, VAT can be shown separately once the total amount that you will have to pay is clear.

Products intended only for a business customer (business-to-business transaction) – for example, products marked ‘trade only’ can show prices that exclude VAT.

Wrong or misleading pricing

Traders are not allowed to display a price that is false or misleading under the Consumer Protection Act 2007. If a trader makes a mistake and the actual price is more than that displayed, you must be told the correct price before you pay. The trader does not automatically have to sell to you at the lower price, however, they must correct the mistake as soon as possible. It is an offence for the trader to knowingly charge more than the price displayed.

Generally, if you are told the correct price before you pay, you do not have the right to demand that the product is sold to you at the lower price. You can either choose to buy the product at the higher price or not go ahead with the purchase. However, if you are charged incorrectly (at a higher price than what is displayed) and you notice this error after you pay, you should bring this to the trader’s attention to request redress (for example, they may provide a full refund or a difference in the price).

Your rights are exactly the same when you buy in a sale as at any other time. If a price reduction is displayed on an item, the previous price must have been valid for 28 days over the previous three months.

The false use of limited offers is also banned. This is where traders tell you that an offer will only be available for a limited time when that is not the case. Find out more about unfair commercial practices.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has more information about rules on pricing.

Rules for specific services and businesses

In addition to the general rules above that apply for all products and services, there are also more specific rules.

Price regulation for certain services

There are some services where prices are regulated. These services include:

  • Electricity – Suppliers cannot charge more than the approved prices. Before a price increase can be applied they have to apply to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). CRU is the statutory body responsible for the regulation of energy and water sector in Ireland.
  • Some telecommunications and postal services - For example, ComReg monitors An Post’s compliance with its legal obligations as universal service provider around the price of the services
  • Financial services – Suppliers do not have to apply for approval for price changes such as a change to bank charges or interest rates, but they must inform the Central Bank of Ireland about any changes. The Central Bank regulates the financial services sector in Ireland.

You can find out more about consumer protections organisations.

Price display rules for certain businesses

Some businesses must follow specific rules about displaying prices. This is so you can clearly see the prices displayed and decide if you are happy with the prices before you enter the premises.

These rules include:

Pubs, bars and other licensed premises (other than off-licences, where the normal rules for other types of shops apply) that require a vintner’s licence to operate

The following rules on prices apply:

  • To clearly display 2 lists of drinks prices – a full list of all items sold and a summary list of the 16 most popular drinks for sale. The 16-drink list must be prominently displayed either inside or directly outside the entrance to the premises.
  • If there are different prices in different areas of the licensed premises (for example, prices for drinks in the lounge and in the bar) these notices need to be displayed prominently in all areas where the products are sold.
  • If the prices change after a certain time (for example, after 11pm), this also needs to be displayed on the notice

These rules are in the Retail Price (Beverages in Licensed Premises) Display Order, 1999.

Restaurants, cafés, fast food outlets, hotels and other business that sell food for eating on their premises

The following rules on prices apply:

  • To display a full price list of food items
  • The notice should be clear and visible immediately outside or directly inside where the food is being served
  • For hotels or licensed premises where food is being served in some areas, the notice can be displayed either at the entrance to the premises or at the entrance to the catering area
  • Restaurants do not have to provide menus, but if they do, then the prices should be the same as the prices displayed outside or at the entrance
  • Any extra charges that apply, such as service or cover charges, must also be stated clearly on the notice
  • If takeaways do not display items on a price list, the price must be displayed either on the goods or near them

These rules are in the Retail Prices (Food in Catering Establishments) Display Order, 1984.

Service stations

The following rules on prices apply:

  • The display of a notice that is clearly visible from the side of the road and that shows price per litre of petrol or diesel
  • The notice must be in writing and be at least 20cm in height
  • The actual price charged at the petrol pump must match the price displayed

These rules are in the Retail Prices (Diesel and Petrol) Display Order, 1997.

Hairdressers

The following rules on prices apply:

  • To display a notice showing the charges for every service provided
  • The notice must be visible from the street or immediately inside the entrance to the premises
  • The notice must be clearly visible and easy to read

These rules are in the Charges (Hairdressing) Display Order, 1976.

Airlines

The following rules on prices apply:

  • The total price must be clearly stated in every advert for airfares, including radio, television and print
  • The total price must include all charges, including taxes
  • Any restrictions that apply must be clearly stated in the advert (for example, the airfare only applies to flights between certain dates and times)

These rules are in the Consumer Information (Advertisements for Airfares) Order 2000.

Concert and theatre tickets

The following rules on prices apply:

  • A written advert must indicate the admission price
  • Any additional charge, and why it is applied, must be stated separately in either monetary or percentage terms – for example, an extra charge for paying by credit card must be stated
  • For all other forms of advertising (for example, radio or TV) the admission price must be stated together with notice that you may have to pay an additional charge in certain circumstances

These rules are in the Consumer Information (Advertisements for Concert or Theatre Performances) Order 1997.

Dental practices The Dental Council issues a Code of Practice which states the following in relation to private fees:
  • Dentists must display private fees in a place where patients can view them before consultation
  • For certain specified procedures a single fee should apply
  • The fee for certain other procedures should be shown as a range with both the minimum and maximum fee clearly stated
  • For all other treatments, an estimate of the cost should be provided, and the patient must consent to the cost before treatment starts

If you have a complaint about pricing information provided by a dental practice you can contact the Dental Council.

Who enforces the rules around pricing?

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has a general function to:

  • Promote competition and consumer welfare, and
  • To investigate, enforce and encourage compliance with competition and consumer law in Ireland

One of the aims of competition law is to prevent anti-competitive practices that may result in consumers paying higher prices. Anti-competitive practices include:

  • Price fixing – This is when businesses selling the same item or service agree what prices should be charged for a product or service
  • Tying – This is when different products are linked together to prevent consumer choice
  • Resale price maintenance – This is when resellers are not allowed to set prices independently

If you have a complaint about the pricing of any good and service, you should first complaint directly to the trader. Find out more about how to make a complaint.

You can complain to the CCPC if you think a trader is not complying with competition and consumer laws or the laws around the display of prices.

You can find more information about what the CCPC does. There is also a website for consumers.

Further information

Find out more about your rights as a consumer in Ireland and advertising rules.

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Bloom House
Railway Street
Dublin 1
D01 C576

Opening Hours: - Lines open Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm
Tel: (01) 402 5555 or 402 5500
Locall: 1890 432 432

Commission for Regulation of Utilities

Customer Care Team

P.O. Box 11934
Dublin 24
D24 PXW0
Ireland

Tel: (01) 4000 800
Locall: 1890 404 404
Fax: (01) 4000 850

Courts Service

15-24 Phoenix Street North
Smithfield
Dublin 7
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 888 6000

Dental Council

57 Merrion Square
Dublin
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 6762069
Fax: +353 (0)1 6762076
Page edited: 25 June 2020