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PAK’nSAVE Mangere has been fined $78,000 for price differences or discrepancies between promotional prices displayed or advertised and the price charged at the cash till.
During June and October 2018, on six dates, the supermarket charged a higher price at the checkout for one or more items than the promotional price that was advertised at the shelf of the product.
Earlier the Mangere supermarket pleaded guilty to six other charges making false or misleading representations about prices, under the Fair Trading Act 1986.
The price differences as an example, sliced salmon was displayed as $7.99 but charged $9.79 on four occasions. This went on for four other occasions, but with slightly different pricing. These are not actual representations of the prices.
The promotional pricing was advertised online on the PAK’nSAVE website, which was at the Mangere location.
Mystery shoppers that are staff from the Commerce Commission were sent to the store to conduct checks on prices against those charged at the cash till.
The prices that were identified by the Commerce Commission staff raised the issue with the customer service staff at the PAK’nSAVE Mangere supermarket immediately following mystery shoppers comparing the prices differences.
The next day the mystery shoppers from the Commerce Commission returned to the PAK’nSAVE Mangere supermarket and re-purchased the products which they had identified price differences, and to check whether the price difference was still happening. In some cases, the differences in prices were still happening.
Judge McNaughton in the Manukau District Court said the conduct “was repeatedly careless and not immediately rectified.”
“The pricing discrepancies related to a number of individual items across different departments of the supermarket and they were repeated, and the defendant did not immediately take steps to correct its pricing systems,” he said.
The Commission’s investigation on PAK’nSAVE Mangere made them take significant steps to remedy the problems “, but the immediate failure to act was inexcusable” said Judge McNaughton.
The Commission’s Chair, Anna Rawlings said “supermarkets manage thousands of different prices and they must ensure that their systems are sufficiently robust to ensure that consumers are charged the right price and are not misled, as they were in this case.
“Consumers should be able to trust that the price displayed on the shelf is the price they will be charged. If a mistake is made, businesses should ensure consumers are compensated and take immediate steps to ensure that the mistake is not repeated.”
“We agree with Judge McNaughton when he says that consumers are entitled to rely on an error-free pricing integrity system, and it is no defence to claim that error is somehow inherent in a business involving high volume, low-value sales and regular changes in pricing,” said Ms Rawlings.