More Carrefour stores caught overcharging

Updated: 2011-02-09 08:15

(China Daily)

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More Carrefour stores caught overcharging 
Shoppers browse a Carrefour store in Haikou, Hainan province. Shi Yan / For China Daily

BEIJING - Two more Carrefour stores were found to have overcharged customers, after 11 of the French retailer's stores in China were fined 500,000 yuan ($76,000) each in a government campaign to crack down on price manipulation during the Spring Festival holiday.

Guangzhou-based New Express Daily reported on Sunday that during a Spring Festival inspection, the Guangzhou price bureau found that Carrefour's Xinshi and Tianheyuancun stores were selling goods for more than the tag prices.

"An investigation is under way but the illegal pricing practices have been confirmed," Wu Linbo, deputy director of the Guangzhou price bureau, was quoted by the newspaper as saying. According to the newspaper, the local government will soon publicize the penalty it decides upon.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced on Jan 26 that 11 Carrefour stores and three Wal-Mart stores were found to be overcharging customers and urged local authorities to act.

The practices included referring to normal prices as sales prices, charging more than what was listed on price tags, and misleading customers with price figures typed in different sizes.

Following the statement, the 11 Carrefour stores in six cities were fined 500,000 yuan each.

While China is combating inflation, overcharging practices during Spring Festival have become a focus of price regulators.

New Express reported Carrefour's Guangzhou branch did not respond to a telephone request for comment but said in a text message that it would cooperate with investigators and take appropriate action.

Carrefour released a statement in late January, after the NDRC announcement, saying it "sincerely apologizes".

The NDRC said in a statement before the Spring Festival that all supermarkets in China must avoid overcharging customers, and it added that it would step up price monitoring over the Lunar New Year.

Carrefour China has promised customers it would refund five times the difference between the advertised prices and incorrect prices charged.

The refund policy will be permanently implemented at Carrefour's 182 outlets in China. However, China Central Television reported that many customers cannot clearly remember how much they were overcharged in the supermarket or find it not worth the effort to collect refunds of less than 100 yuan.

Chen Bo, a spokesperson with Carrefour China, said in an interview with Xinhua News Agency on Jan 30 that the company has established short-term and long-term measures addressing the issue, including setting up a group to conduct internal price inspections "widely and frequently".

Wu Gaohan, former vice-secretary general of the China Consumers' Association, said multinationals, such as Carrefour and Wal-Mart that have been found to have intentionally overcharged customers, should face stiffer penalties, according to the People's Daily.

The newspaper also quoted Liu Junhai, a commercial-law professor at Renmin University of China, as saying that overcharging scandals will seriously harm the stores' reputations.

China Daily


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