Online shoppers warned about hidden price rises

Publishedduration39 minutes agoSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionAlgorithms could show misleading messages suggesting limited stock, the CMA said

Algorithms used by online marketplaces could lead to a rise in prices of goods and services, the UK’s competitions watchdog has warned.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating businesses which use technology on selling platforms.

Shoppers could be "manipulated" into buying specific items, as search results favour certain brands, it said.

Consumers may also be shown misleading messages on these websites, suggesting items are in short supply.

Collusion between businesses on consumer spending and browsing data could lead to “sustained higher prices for products and services”, the CMA said.

Kate Brand, its director of data science, added: “Algorithms play an important role online but, if not used responsibly, can potentially do a tremendous amount of harm to consumers and businesses.

“Assessing this harm is the first step towards being able to ensure consumers are protected, and complements our wider work in digital markets to promote greater competition and innovation online.”