London 2012: Olympics souvenir prices a 'rip-off'

A consumer watchdog has said retailers are ripping off the public by charging three times the recommended price for Olympics merchandise.

Which? said the price variation between official shops and licensed retailers on Oxford Street in central London was "fundamentally wrong".

Traders are not obliged by the Olympics organiser to sell at the recommended retail price (RRP).

Westminster Council said it was aware of the problem.

'Exploiting consumers'

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, Locog, said more than 50 retailers had been licensed to sell the souvenirs, including toys of the mascots Wenlock and Mandeville.

BBC London found that a small Mandeville soft toy at John Lewis in Oxford Street cost £9.99 but at the shop Color in the same road, it was on sale for £29.99.

A Locog spokesman said: "It is solely at the retailers discretion to set the retail price - we nor anyone else have control over pricing.

"Some licensees will set an RRP for each item of official London 2012 merchandise but ultimately retailers decide the level of pricing."

Which? said its organisation had found consumers were being exploited.

Martin Hocking of Which? said: "When a shop at one end of Oxford Street is charging £8.99 and a shop at the other end of the street is charging £24.99 there's something fundamentally wrong.

"I can't imagine that the price of anything else on Oxford Street would vary that much."

He added: "That's not just a markup, that's a rip off".

He said one of the problems was that since the souvenirs were "one-off products" consumers had no idea what they should be paying for them.

Sue Jones, head of trading standards at Westminster Council, said she was aware of certain premises charging inflated prices for Olympics merchandise.

She said: "The council has no control over how much retailers sell these items for, but we will intervene if we find any unauthorised or counterfeit products and have already taken action against several retailers for this."

A spokesman for Color said it had subsequently reduced the price of souvenirs to be "more in line" with official shops like John Lewis.

Locog said that the widest range of official merchandise was available from the online shop and the London 2012 shops at St Pancras International and Paddington stations, Heathrow Terminals 3 and 5, Stansted Airport, Canary Wharf and in John Lewis locations at Oxford Street, Stratford City, Bluewater, Kingston and Liverpool One.

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