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Deceptive pricing at foreign owned supermarkets

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Tue Dec 02, 2014

Editor: I wish to alert my fellow Vincentians to an underhand practice which occurs with great frequency at the three supermarkets operated by a non-local company. This is an extra revenue earning trick that has been exposed by myself personally on at least 10 occasions and reported by others also.{{more}}

The trick begins by them placing a “special” or similar type sign at the product indicating that it is reduced by a certain amount, usually due to the fact that it is about to go past its expiry date. The customer considers they will be making a saving due to the information stated on the sign and they take it to the cash register. However, unless they are paying close attention to the register display, they will not notice that they are often being charged the full regular price and not the advertised price at all!

When this occurred again this week, I was informed by staff this was a “computer error” and they wanted to argue the point when I informed them this was just one of many similar previous occurrences. Whatever happened to a sincere apology and an assurance they will do better in the future? Perhaps this kind of training has not come down from their head office overseas, and if not, why?

I advise all customers to make a mental note of the reduced price when selecting something marked in this way and ensure it shows up on the register display at the time of cashing. The word ‘markdown’ in red should appear right below the description of the item, and if you do not see it then you should mention it straightaway to the cashier, as it will be harder to track back the next day.

However, when one considers that this is a regular ‘thing’ at their stores, this can only point to two possible explanations. Either it is a deliberate action or incompetence at senior levels of the company in their procedures and training. After all, how hard can it be for the person putting the “special” signs up to scan one of the products at the time to ensure that the advertised price and the register price correspond? What is so difficult for the company to have made that part of their regular operating procedure? The fact that they have taken no action to do so, despite the numerous instances where they have had to correct these errors on my insistence, seems to indicate that they are quite OK with the situation, as the persons that do not notice the overcharge far outweigh the couple that do, thus putting them in front.

Interestingly, similar checks over longer periods of time at the locally owned supermarkets have not resulted in even one instance of a similar price discrepancy, so something is seriously wrong.

I think the Government should take action by penalizing companies that engage in what could be called deceptive labelling practices and then I am sure they would pay much more attention to the correctness of their systems and the interests of their customers.

Alert Shopper

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