Last year, Czech Trade Inspection conducted over 3,500 checks of discounted products in physical stores and e-shops. Violations of law were found in 37% of cases. At the same time, people are looking for more discounted products, especially during periods of rising prices. Therefore, a reporter from Aktuálně.cz went with the inspector to his one of such inspections, namely the penny her market in Ustina Dravem.
Two men in their 50s grabbed their shopping carts in front of a supermarket and entered the penny market in Oustinad Labem. They mainly intend to take discounted goods off the shelves, but their goal is not to save as much as possible. I am an inspector of inspection.
Renata Linhardtova, head of inspections for the Ustie and Liberec regions, explained that the main focus will be on whether stores are actually selling goods at discounted prices, as indicated on price tags and discount leaflets. doing. “If she finds other violations on the spot, such as missing cigarette stamps or giving away free plastic bags, of course she’ll address that as well,” the director says.
But there are no strings attached. They make the most mistakes when it comes to discounts. Inspection spokesman Jizzy Fröhlich said that in paperwork, stores often think that employee or part-timer misbehavior is a mistake. For example, claiming that you forgot to remove the discount price tag after the payment was stopped.
“Chains should choose such discount promotions to the extent that they can reliably guarantee the correct price of the product even at checkout. No. It’s their decision and it has to be within the scope of their power to ensure appropriate and clear pricing and correct billing for consumers,” says Fröhlich.
One inspector wears shorts and a short-sleeved checkered shirt, the other wears long pants, a T-shirt and a jacket as they enter Oustinad Labem. They don’t stand out among a handful of shoppers. Controllers always choose normal clothing and never disguise themselves.
Like today, they usually travel in pairs. Of the approximately 300 inspectors in the entire Czech Republic, approximately one-tenth are located in the Usty and Liberec regions. They differ in age, height and appearance. We also work with others on certain checks, such as whether we are selling alcohol to minors or discriminating against our customers.
“From the outset, we have paired up to ensure that no one seems suspicious. For example, we dispatch female inspectors who match our appearance and age to demonstrations of hot pot for pensioners. We sent a man to a car dealership to look like a mother with her son when he chooses and pays, ”explains director Linhardtwer.
A man from Usti Nad Labem holds a discount flyer when entering the shop. They then walk through the aisles of the shelves and talk together about what to buy. Probably the same as other customers.
In the end, the basket contains cookies, dark chocolate, a bottle of beer and a bottle of hard alcohol, toothpaste, six apples, and an extension cord. “We choose items that can be returned, so for example, we don’t take rolls without a good reason,” explains one of the inspectors. The store is legally obligated to take back the item from managed purchases after payment and refund it.
Purchasing an inspector at Woosty’s Penny Market store. | | Photo: Martin Croix
Inspectors must not be identifiable, so they also have cover documents for other types of inspections. Previously, it was not possible to use your ID for credit checks. Even if you apply for credit yourself, you may not get credit. Today it is required for inspections in car dealerships and e-shops. By entering their own data, large companies can easily create a complete database of inspectors in no time and become smarter when inspections are made. to start.
However, counterfeit documents are not required at supermarket checkouts. One of her shopping inspectors picks up a plastic bag and demands a packet of cigarettes. She pays for the inspection purchase, receives a receipt, and after saying goodbye to her clerk informs her that they are from Czech Trade Inspections and have come to her inspection. They present the service card and the cashier calls her boss.
“So we’re going to start a routine inspection,” the inspector says, going to the back of the store to check the purchases with the store manager and make a report. “The most important thing is to make sure the prices on the price tags and receipts are correct. Consumers often lose track of the price when they buy 20 or more items, so they often don’t notice the mistake. Hmm, even the inspector just notices a lot of mistakes.
With 400 stores, mistakes happen and traders fight back
In the long run, stores make mistakes with discount checks of up to 40%. Not today. The price on the price tag corresponded to the price on the receipt. Linhardtova said there is a need to protect consumers, especially during times of significant price increases. “At this time of year when we hear so much about discounts, we need to check supermarkets so people don’t get fooled,” he says.
When inspectors discover fraudulent activity in supermarkets, they refer administrative proceedings. An inspection last year resulted in Penny being fined a maximum of two million crowns for her fraudulent pricing in her market. “When inspecting discounted sales of goods at 15 different premises, inspectors each time found violations of the law, sometimes causing serious harm to consumers with orders of several hundred crowns for a single purchase,” the fine said. Explaining the forehead., Spokesperson Fröhlich.
At the time, Penny Market defended itself by arguing that the chain had over 400 stores and that having too many could lead to errors. “In the current situation, our priority is to keep prices as low as possible. We prepare special offers for hundreds of products in each store several times a week,” said Tomasz, spokesman for the chain. Kubik explained.
However, other supermarkets also violated the law. Billa and Kaufland also paid $800,000 in fines last year. The inspection will also fine smaller shops, but the amount will be much less. “For inspections of small sellers who do not have a network of chains, we have never encountered such fines. We try to detect problems quickly and prevent repeat violations,” Linhartová explains.
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