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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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The President of UOKiK imposed a fine of PLN 115 million on Biedronka

< previous | next > 12.08.2020

The President of UOKiK imposed a fine of PLN 115 million on Biedronka
  • Price at the checkout higher than the one displayed on the shelf or no information about the product price - this is how Biedronka has been violating consumers' rights for several years.
  • President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny imposed a fine of PLN 115 million on the owner of the Biedronka retail chain, Jeronimo Martins Polska.

The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection has been receiving numerous consumers’ complaints and information from the Voivodeship Inspectorates of the Trade Inspection Authority concerning incorrect display of prices in BIEDRONKA chain stores. Hundreds of complaints related to higher prices at the checkout than on the shop shelves or the absence of prices on goods themselves. The complaints received formed the basis for instigation of proceedings against Jeronimo Martins Polska. During the proceedings, the President of the Office commissioned the Trade Inspection Authority to carry out inspections, which confirmed the scale of incorrect information on prices in the stores belonging to JMP. According to the Office's findings, the malpractice has been continuing at least since 2016. Only the proceedings initiated later last year pressed the owners of Biedronka to take actions aimed at resolving the irregularities identified. The President of UOKiK will follow up on the effects of the implemented changes aimed at removing infringements of collective consumer interests.

Different price at the checkout than on the shelf

- Price is one of the key criteria for consumers when choosing products. Misleading consumers about the right price of goods is unacceptable. As regards Biedronka, customers have for a long time been paying more than it was apparent from the price on the shop shelves. They were not even always aware of that – says President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny.

Examples of consumer complaints (original spelling):

  • The price placed on the store fridge informed that until 31.08.19 the price for Carte D'Or ice cream is PLN 10.99. These ice-creams were on special offer until that day and I bought them on that day too (...). Unfortunately, once I have paid, it turned out that a price of PLN 15.99 was charged on the receipt.
  • Encouraged by the advertising leaflet and a piece of paper over the product, I decided to buy chicken breast at a promotional price of 9.99 pln. After shopping I went to the checkout for the goods I paid for, but as I was paying, I didn't notice on the receipt that the breasts are in the regular price, i.e. 16.89 per kg (...) I asked for the possibility to return the goods, but I heard that unfortunately I can't do it, because I left the shop with the goods and you they wouldn't take it back from me. So I said it's a swindle and I won't leave it like that and I'll report it to the UOKiK, then one lady from the staff said: "so what, they'll do nothing about it".
  • Evening visit in Biedronka (...) I see Marletto 1L ice cream for 3.45 (discounted from 4.99). At the checkout, its already 10.99zł. So I'm going back to the freezer to check... there's no other Marletto 1L ice cream or any other price for that ice cream.

As one can see, the differences in the price of one product could amount to as much as a few PLN. Considering that these dealings have been going on for several years, consumers might have suffered severe losses, and the owner of the Biedronka chain unjustifiably enriched themselves at their expense. It also appears from the complaints that there were situations where clerks were unwilling to accept the claims of customers who, exercising their rights, demanded that the product be sold at a more favourable price, displayed on the shelf.

Examples of complaints (original spelling):

  • I wanted to buy a primula flower for 2.89. And I got a 7.99 at the checkout. I asked the manager to explain the situation and to return the overpaid amount. Unfortunately, he didn't agree. I've been informed to call the store's customer line.
  • Toilet paper with the displayed price of PLN 9.99 was sold for PLN 16.99. To make matters worse, if this swindling was noticed, it was not possible to buy the paper at the actually displayed price.
  • There was a big piece of paper with a unit price for a candle light on the palette with candle lights. If you bought two candle lights, the price was to be 7.99 PLN each. A different price of PLN 12.99 per item was charged at the checkout. When I called the manager, she informed me that all I can do is to return the candle lights I bought.

No information on price

Each clerk is also obliged to display the price of the goods being sold. Obstructing the consumer from seeing the price at the product selection stage is a serious violation of their right to be provided with fair, truthful and complete information. Meanwhile, the inspections carried out by the Trade Inspection Authority proved that in Biedronka stores on average as much as 14% of goods lacked price information.

Jeronimo Martins Polska S.A. fined

- The continuing dealings have resulted in real losses in consumers' pockets and unjustified enrichment of the retail chain owner at their expense. Therefore, I decided to impose a fine of PLN 115 million on Jeronimo Martins Polska. The irregularities were also confirmed by the company itself, which tried to account for them by human error due to the large scale of its business operations. We do not rule out that this could have been the case, but it does not justify in any way acting to the detriment of customers, especially given that for a long time the entrepreneur - despite numerous irregularities detected by the Trade Inspection Authority - has failed to make a systemic effort to solve this problem. Such a big company should exercise due diligence in its operations so that mistakes in marking do not affect the customers – says President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny.

In addition to the financial fine, Biedronka's stores will also have to inform consumers about their rights in case of a difference in price on the shelf and at the checkout: In case of discrepancies or doubts as to the price for the goods offered, the consumer has the right to demand that the goods be sold at the price most favourable to them (Article 5 of the Act of 9 May 2014 on information on prices of goods and services).

The decision is not final and may be appealed against to the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection.

Differences in shelf and checkout price or lack of information on product price are illegal practices and cannot be applied in any store. The number and content of consumer complaints received by UOKiK to date, as well as the results of inspections carried out by the Trade Inspection Authority have not shown that a similar problem exists on such a large scale in other major retail chains. However, if consumers notice such a practice, we encourage them to inform the UOKiK or the competent Voivodeship Inspectorate of the Trade Inspection Authority.

Consumer, know your rights:

  • Prices should be displayed on price tags or on the products themselves. The clerk must provide unambiguous pricing information in a clearly visible manner. If they inform about the price only verbally or do not inform at all, they break the law.
  • Compare the prices of similar products. This is made easier by the presence of the so-called unit prices – price per litre, per kilogramme, per 100 grammes, per unit. Every clerk is under the obligation to provide them.
  • If the price at the checkout is higher than that displayed on the shelf or on the product itself, you have the right to buy the product at lower price. If you notice the difference only on the receipt, claim back the overpaid amount. In such a situation, it is good to have evidence, e.g. a picture of a tag on a shop shelf and a receipt.
  • Report the irregularities to the Trade Inspection Authority or UOKiK.

Consumer support:

Phone: +48 801 440 220 or +48 22 290 89 16 – consumer helpline
E-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer ombudsmen – in your city/ town or district
Regional Consumer Centres: Phone: +48 22 299 60 90 – Dlakonsumenta.pl
Provincial Trade Inspection Authority Offices

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files

 

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