Dozens of errors in price marking were discovered on the shelves at branches of Rami Levy, one of the largest retail food chains in Israel. The errors were discovered by the Consumer Council, which carried out a survey, after having received complaints from consumers. The errors were in the marking of unit prices, giving consumers who use this measure to compare products an inaccurate picture.
In January 2009, consumer protection regulations dealing with unit pricing came into force.
The Consumer Protection Regulations (Price per Measurement Unit) require every business, if it has more than 100 square meters of floor space, to display, in addition to the price of a product, the price per unit of measurement – either per liter or kilogram, or per 100 ml or 100 grams.
The aim of these regulations is to allow consumers to easily compare the prices of identical or similar products whose package volume or weight are different.
The display of a unit price that does not match the price or weight of the product may be deceptive for the consumer, and not allow him to purchase the least expensive product:
• Displaying a unit price that is too high may trick the consumer into thinking that the competing product is cheaper.
• Displaying a unit price that is too low may trick the consumer into thinking that the product in question is cheaper than a competing product.
Following a number of complaints, the Consumer Council carried out a survey which found 56 allegedly deceptive labels in four branches of the Rami Levy Shivuk Hashikma chain. The price and the weight on the shelf label matched the price and weight shown on the package, but the unit price turned out to be wrong. In some cases it was higher than the actual price, and in others it was lower. An act or omission by which a business may deceive a consumer in regard to a substantive matter such as price is a criminal offence, with a penalty of one year’s imprisonment or a fine.
“By not giving accurate information, the consumer is, in effect, unfairly and unlawfully misled,” says Consumer Council CEO, Adv. Ehud Peleg. “It is the consumer’s right to receive information that is both complete and accurate, and it is the duty of every business to provide that information. This allows consumers to decide what products they wish to purchase, if at all. The Consumer Council will act to ensure that consumers receive a true and fair picture of the prices they are being asked to pay.”