Sunday, 13 January 2013

Confusing pricing and its remedy

Recently I received letters from to consumer regarding their experiences with pricing of items.
“I wished to buy some material and was looking at various options in the Chinese shops in the area. I noticed a sign for material that was normally marked for N$ 29.00 was on special at N 19.00. As the pattern as agreeable to me, I proceeded to buy around 10 metres. When I came to the till, the shopkeeper rang up the purchase at the price of N$ 29.00 rather than the advertised discount price. I immediately brought his attention to this fact and insisted he ring up the total at the advertised lower price. I was shocked when the shopkeeper started shouting at me, and even physically assaulted me while chasing me from the shop. During the scuffle, I received a push and landed quite hard on the sidewalk. I reported the incident to the Police but they were only interested in the physical assault and could do nothing about the pricing difference between what was advertised and what was being charged. I am a pensioner and would like to know, as a consumer, what rights do I have regarding this issue?”

“While doing some shopping at one of the larger wholesalers in Windhoek I noticed a certain brand of mussels was showing a very good price on the labelling attached to the shelf. I double checked that the bar code of the product and the price label were the same and proceeded to take 6 cans of the mussels. I had lots of other shopping to do and filled the trolley by the time I had to pay. By chance I happened to look at the register while the shop assistant was scanning the cans of mussels and realised the price was almost double than that indicated on the shelf. I immediately objected and insisted she call a supervisor when she told me that it was a computer problem and she was not responsible. The supervisor was very helpful and went with me to examine the pricing on the shelf. When the pricing on the shelf was checked against the cans she realised that it was “an old price” still being displayed. Nevertheless, she assisted in checking through the mussels at the advertised price and had the price corrected on the price thereafter. How many times do this kind of thing happen because how can we remember the price on each product when we make our choices?”
In the case of the consumer who is a pensioner, very little can be done about the difference between product pricing and what is being charged at the counter – at present. The proposed Consumer Protection Act would address what is in effect misleading advertising, but more importantly, the law will prescribe certain deterrents such as fines and even possibly imprisonment of sellers intentionally misleading the public. My advice is to pursue the criminal charge of assault as too many of our business owners treat their customers without respect.

In regards to the consumer purchasing mussels; they have found a business that really believes in a healthy consumer relationship. The business you mentioned has not only got a policy of refunding you if the product is overcharged, but they also have a very responsive customer helpline which you can contact – even while you are in the store and having a problem. That is the kind of business e should all support by spending our money there.

After all, as a consumer the true power you have is in the colour of your money. Buy where you receive good service and deny your money to shopkeepers who treat you badly.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the staff and readers of the Namibian for the opportunity given to me to write my small contribution to making this country a better, happier place for us all. May you and your loved ones have a blessed Christmas, and may we continue in 2013 in improving our personal lives with better consumer protection awareness.

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