South Africans love their meat! We consume much more significant amounts of it compared to our European and Asian counterparts. Luckily for us, meat is a fair bit cheaper in South Africa than in other parts of the world.
Good news! You may think – at least SOMETHING is cheaper back home!
However, one should read this in context: it is still a pricey meal item. South Africans receiving the minimum wage have to work 5.9 hours to afford one kilogram of beef. They have to work 3.3 hours to provide a kilogram of chicken, 13.5 hours to afford a kilogram of fish, 5.1 hours for a kilogram of pork and 8.4 hours for a kilogram of lamb.
Nothing beats some ‘lekker’ potjiekos in winter … hmmm … ANY season, actually!
During a recent shopping expedition to Food Lovers Market, I came across a special on potjiekos meat (a traditional stew made in a cast-iron pot on the fire) for R59.99 per kg. When I left the store, I glanced at the slip and saw that they had charged me R79.99 per kg. I demanded a refund, left the item at the store and walked away with my money. I guess we ate scrambled eggs that night.
A week later, on entering the grocery chain Checkers, I came across a 600gm pack of roasted nuts, marked down to R16.99. The price was clear; the poster stated that the price advertised was indeed the price for the entire box. An absolute bargain, I took a unit. Once more, as I left the till I saw on the receipt that I had been charged R169.90 – ten times the ‘special price’!
Consumer protection to the rescue!
I decided to see what my rights were. First, I looked at what the Consumer Protection Act says. It states that I have the right to fair and honest dealing with suppliers. In this case, I felt that Checkers, Sea Point, had not respected my rights, and so I decided to speak to the store supervisor.
The store supervisor agreed that the price on the poster was not what I had been charged. On checking the complaints register, she noted that I was not the only customer who complained and that the supervisor had failed to remove the poster. Because of this proved negligence, I received a full refund and walked away with the item as a gift. Pity I had only taken one! It made me think…What other measures are in place to ensure that my rights, as described above, are upheld? What if the store manager was not helpful, or even hostile?
Enters the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud
According to their website, their role is as follows:
The Office of the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud (CGSO) is the consumer goods and services industry’s compulsory Ombud scheme, set up in line with the Consumer Protection Act .
The CGSO enforces the Consumer Goods and Services Industry Code of Conduct by receiving and dealing with consumer goods complaints by a consumer free of charge and investigating alleged contraventions.
The website offers news updates as well as delineating the process, in an interactive format, for laying a complaint.
No banner and you have a bargain!
According to the Consumer Ombud Advisory Note Number 2, a supplier is obliged to allow a consumer to pay the lower price should the scanned price, and the displayed price differ. Once the customer gets to the till, and the item is scanned, it is too late for the store to argue that it was an obvious mistake.
However, where the store notices an error and clearly warns you of the fault before you get to the pay point, they will not be bound by the incorrect price. You might have noticed, when you enter some supermarkets, a large poster will inform you of a pricing error.
Where they advertise a price and no stock is available, the shop must provide you with a ‘rain check’ which you can redeem at a future date, when stock is available. However, only if the advertisement does not clearly state that only limited stock is available.
The grocery store in your local mall
So what are the specific policies when items are incorrectly priced? According to the Daily Dispatch:
- Woolworths – will give you the first item for free, the others at a lower price
- Pick n Pay – will refund you double the difference
- Checkers – will provide you with a full refund, with the item given for free
It pays to keep your eyes open
Arm yourself with knowledge – know your rights and stand your ground. You have the right to be treated fairly.