One of the rules supermarket shoppers traditionally follow is that white labels mean 'regular price' and coloured ones mean 'on special'. However, this is no longer the case in the two biggest chains, Wellcome and ParknShop, which have quietly changed the system and are using only yellow labels. The Sunday Morning Post spotted the quiet relabelling on the shelves while investigating a Consumer Council report last week that found shoppers were being cheated because the two big chains were raising prices before offering discounts - making them more expensive than before. A council survey tracked the prices of 288 items sold by the two chains between October and February. Some goods, even when tagged with promotion labels, were sold at higher prices during the bargain period. The survey found 79 such instances of the practice. In one case, both chains raised the price of a can of beer from HK$5.90 to HK$6.10 on November 14, and further to HK$6.50 the next day. Later on the same day, one of them offered a promotion of HK$12.30 for two cans of beer. The other chain followed suit a day after. Consumers said yesterday that the scrapping of the white labels had made comparing prices harder. ParknShop did not say exactly when the white tickets had been replaced, but a spokeswoman said they were phased out about 18 months ago with the launch of its 'every day low price' strategy for all products. Every product sold in stores, whether discounted or not, is now tagged with a yellow label, she said. Only a handful of products in ParknShop have the description 'every day low price' on their price labels. Customers yesterday said they thought such products were on special. The spokeswoman said there was not enough space to print the promotion on every tag. However, the chain would pay twice the difference if a customer found the same product sold at a cheaper price at another supermarket, she said. A Wellcome spokeswoman said they could not pinpoint exactly when the labels were replaced, but the reason was that coloured ones were more eye-catching, and it was more environmentally friendly to use just one type. When approached yesterday, shoppers said they had noticed more yellow tags, but did not realise the old labels had disappeared. Isabella Tsun, shopping in a ParknShop store, looked sceptical when told the white price labels had been removed. 'Are there really no more white tags?' she asked. Ms Tsun and her friend said they were always on the lookout for yellow labels as a sign of special offers. Another shopper, Mani Lam, wanted the white labels back and said the Consumer Council should push the supermarkets to reuse the traditional labels. 'Normal prices should be labelled in white,' she said. A third customer, Magdalene Leung, said she did not realise products with the 'every day low price' slogan were not necessarily cheaper. Ms Leung said she used to peep behind the yellow tags to see what was on the white ones so she could 'check if there is truly a difference between the two'. Consumer Council chief executive Connie Lau Yin-hing said consumers would naturally believe products with the 'every day low price' labels were on special. Despite calls for regulations on discounts and promotions, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau has not yet decided how to approach the question of legislation. 'For example, we need to consider how to define inappropriate sales practices clearly, and what practices amount to misleading representations,' a representative said. The bureau also needed to consider whether the same purpose could be attained by amending existing legislation.