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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Trade Inspection Authority audit: small stores - big pricing problems

< previous | next > 09.02.2018

Trade Inspection Authority audit: small stores - big pricing problems
  • The Trade Inspection Authority identified irregularities at more than 78% of traditional stores with manned cash desks.
  • These stores appear to have an immense problem insofar as providing accurate pricing information is concerned – including, in particular, prices per units such as kilogramme or litre.
  • In some cases, the products sold weighed less than advertised; in other situations, the checkout price would be higher than that displayed on the store shelves; in spite of all this, customers of traditional stores continue to be served more fairly than in self-service stores.

The Trade Inspection Authority, acting upon request of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, audited 165 traditional stores and stands with manned cash desks. The focus of the audit was primarily to verify how such stores provide pricing information and whether any of them attempt to deceive their customers. The inspectors visited various stores, including those which have previously been the subject of complaints. The nationwide audit took place in Q3 2017. The UOKiK later compared its results with those of a similar audit carried out by the Trade Inspection Authority at self-service stores six months earlier.

The biggest problem which traditional stores appear to be facing today is providing accurate pricing information. Prices should be displayed on price tags or on the products themselves. However, the store personnel often fails to comply with this obligation, mostly due to lack of knowledge. The inspectors examined more than 30 thousand food products and expressed concerns with respect to more than 6 thousand of them (19.6%). In case of as many as 90.5% of the goods, the irregularities in question involved the absence of information of the so-called unit price (i.e. price per kilogramme, price per litre), while no pricing information at all was given for 20% of such products. In case of self-service stores, the Trade Inspection Authority found that unit prices were absent for 68% of all products that presented irregularities, with 26.7% of such products not being provided with price tags of any kind.

In terms of overall fairness, traditional stores fared somewhat better than the self-service ones. The number of irregularities identified in such stores, such as incorrect pricing (differences between the price displayed on the shelves and the price actually charged during checkout), dishonest weighing practices or charging the customer for items which he or she did not actually purchase, was lower by half compared to self-service outlets. Situations of this kind were found to have occurred in 8.5% of all stores with manned cash desks, compared to 17% of self-service stores.

All in all, the Trade Inspection Authority identified irregularities in 78.2% of all audited traditional stores, compared to 62.8% of self-service stores examined during the earlier audit. As a result, the Authority issued 52 decisions, imposing penalties upon various entrepreneurs for the provision of incorrect pricing information; the total amount of the penalties imposed exceeded PLN 17.5 thousand. In addition, the Authority also imposed
22 fines for a total amount of PLN 3,100 for irregularities such as non-certified weighing scales or absence of information on the harmful nature of alcoholic beverages.

Buyer, beware: remember to check the price!

  • Prices should be displayed on the goods themselves, on the accompanying price tags, in price lists or catalogues. The seller must provide unambiguous pricing information in
    a clearly visible manner. It is illegal to provide oral pricing information only.
  • When going to a hair salon or dental surgery, always look for the price list. The same rule applies to goods which are not displayed by the seller in a location to which customers have direct access. If the products are placed in a visible manner, the price must be included either on the packaging or on the accompanying price tag.
  • Compare the prices of similar products. This is made easier by the presence of the
    so-called unit prices – price per litre, per kilogramme, per 100 grammes, per unit. Every trader is under the obligation to provide information on such prices.
  • If the price at the cash desk is higher than that displayed on the shelf or on the product itself, you have the right to demand a lower price.
  • When in doubt, please contact the Trade Inspection Authority.

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office 
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warsaw
Phone: 695 902 088
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL


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