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Bottom line: Know where you shop

Monday, May 19, 2014

Each week, the Guardian Angel column highlights complaints sent in by you, the consumer, and provides solutions or directs you to the appropriate resource.



Problem: Rajendra Harry sent in an e-mail complaining about stores that check receipts when customers exit the establishment. Mr Harry said, “I am concerned about the checking of receipts at the exits of stores like PriceSmart. “I believe we are governed by the Sale of Goods Act and goods become the property of someone at the point where it is paid for, ie, at the cash register. “PriceSmart and other stores check out all groceries against the receipts at the exit. Is this something legal, even if there is no suspicion of shoplifting?”



Solution: The Consumer Affairs Division was contacted to gain insight into this matter. The division said there are no laws prohibiting this practice, and consumers choose to enter these stores, knowing the stores’ policies in this regard. If consumers disagree with this practice, they can choose to no longer shop at these establishments, or to complain to the stores’ management or the Consumer Affairs Division.



Problem: La Romaine resident M Victor said she purchased a $30 top in a store at Gulf City on May 10. She said, “As I offered my credit card to make the payment, the cashier informed me that the value of the top was too low for credit-card use and that I would need to make the payment via cash. Ms Victor said stores should have signs indicating their policies, as it is unacceptable to be informed of the store’s practices at the checkout counter.


She said, “I have also observed some merchants applying different charges for items being purchased via debit card/cash and credit card. “For instance, a bottle of dietary supplements might cost $63.75 according to the price displayed on the item. When you reach by the cashier, you are then told that the cost is now $66.75 because you opted to use your credit card. 



“They even have the audacity to tell you that it is too costly for the business to pay bank charges when a customer uses a credit card, and that the customer then has to absorb those charges! “I think it is time merchants act more professionally. The consumer cannot always operate under conditions of caveat emptor when shopping.”



Solution: The Consumer Affairs Division said Ms Victor has to report the issue to the bank that issued the credit-card machine to the store and find out the bank’s policy on the matter, as the bank is the one to take any necessary action against the store. 



If Ms Victor has further questions, she can contact the division at 625-5829 or 623-3821.


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