Shelf prices and scanned prices

by Maskil on 15 Oct 2008

I entered this comment on the SPAR website within a day or so of the incident occurring. As expected, I haven’t yet received a response. I’m not holding my breath; previous comments on this retailer’s site have also gone unacknowledged.

I bought four packets of NCP Instant Yeast 10g (Product Code 6001411000119) from the Wendywood Kwikspar on 5 October 2008.

Although the price on the shelf was clearly marked as R1.49, I was charged R1.89 apiece. I queried this with the cashier, who just gave me a blank stare. Because the amount was small and I was in a hurry, I left it at that.

I would just like to bring the matter to management’s attention, however. Retailers around the country have gotten away with not pricing the individual items by assuring us that the price would always appear on the shelf, and that the shelf price would always match the scanned price. In too many instances, however, this is simply not the case.

I’m sure this is just a simple merchandising or capture error, but I actually look forward to the day when these pricing discrepancies are treated as tantamount to fraud. Perhaps when the law starts to take this seriously, retailers will do the same!

Till slip details are as follows:

Cashier name: Johanna Mahlangu C0004 #0089 10:33:09 5OCT2008 S0001 R003

Although this particular incident concerned SPAR, they are by no means the only ones guilty of this. All the major retailers rely on barcode scanning to determine the price of an item at the checkout counter, and none of them has an unblemished record when it comes to:

  • Ensuring that the shelf price matches the price on the computer system used by cashiers, i.e. what the consumer actually pays
  • Ensuring that there is always a shelf price for each and every item on their shelves
  • Ensuring that the shelf price is in a logical place and that there can be no confusion around which sticker relates to which item

I would dearly love to see officials from, say the Department of Trade and Industry conducting unscheduled inspections randomly at major retail outlets, and handing out fines left, right and centre for any transgressions of this nature. Oh well, I can always hope…

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