Auckland Supermarket Fined for Misleading Price Differences

Discrepancies between prices displayed or advertised, and what customers were charged at the till has led to a Mangere Pak’nSave being fined almost $80,000.

Operated by Kennedy’s Foodcentre 2003 Ltd, the Auckland supermarket pleaded guilty to six charges of making false and/or misleading representations about price, under the Fair-Trading Act and has been slapped with a $78,000 fine.

After officials carried out ‘mystery shops’ to check the advertising prices against those charged at checkout, the staff from the Commerce Commission laid official charges.

The Commerce Commission had already raised the issue of the price differences with customer service staff at the store, however, when they returned to the Pak’nSave the next day and bought the same items, they found customers were still being charged more at the till than what was being displayed on shelves.

"The pricing discrepancies related to a number of individual items across different departments of the supermarket and they were repeated," said Judge McNaughton of the Manukau District Court in a written decision.

"The defendant did not immediately take steps to correct its pricing systems. The immediate failure to act was inexcusable.”

The Mangere Pak’nSave only carried out significant steps to fix the issues once the store was told of the Commission’s investigation.

Ensuring systems were sufficiently robust to make sure customers were not misled was important for all supermarkets noted Commerce Commission chairwoman, Anna Rawlings.

"Consumers should be able to trust that the price displayed on the shelf is the price they will be charged," she said.

"If a mistake is made, businesses should ensure consumers are compensated and take immediate steps to ensure that the mistake is not repeated."