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Carrefour fined for overcharging

Updated: 2011-01-31 07:59

(China Daily)

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BEIJING - Three Carrefour stores in Shanghai, three in Central China's Hunan province and two in Southwest China's Yunnan province have been fined 500,000 yuan ($76,000) each for overcharging customers.

The fine is the highest imposed in China for such wrongdoing.

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The three stores in Shanghai were also ordered to correct their illegal pricing and refund overcharged customers, said the municipal regulators, who issued the fines on Saturday morning.

A hearing will be held to decide the final amount of the fines. Carrefour representatives will be able to respond to the charges at the hearing, according to regulators.

Two stores in Kunming, capital of Yunnan, were found to have cheated on prices for tea, rice, chocolate and other goods. Some of the items were charged at twice the label price, said an official of the provincial pricing administration.

Three Carrefour stores in Changsha, capital of Hunan, were each fined 500,000 yuan by the provincial price bureau on Sunday for price fraudulence.

China's price regulator announced last week that it had found several retailers cheating customers, including 11 of Carrefour China's stores.

Carrefour China promised customers on Saturday that it will provide refunds of five times the difference between advertised prices and incorrect prices charged at cash desks, after it was blacklisted by Chinese authorities for deceptive pricing.

Chen Bo, spokesman for Carrefour China, apologized to customers. He said Carrefour China has established both short-term and long-term measures to resolve the issue.

"We'll have our special control group conduct internal price inspections, with wide coverage and high frequency," Chen said.

He added that the refund policy will be permanently implemented at Carrefour's 182 outlets in China, with non-implementation to be regarded as a violation of corporate rules.

After the retailers' deceptive pricing practices were exposed, about half the respondents to an online poll said they thought the authorities' poor supervision was to blame for the false pricing.

The survey, initiated by, a major Chinese Internet portal, had collected nearly 10,000 votes by midnight on Saturday.

Some 53.3 percent of those polled said a lack of market supervision encouraged retailers to "dare" to engage in deceptive pricing.

"Similar incidents have happened not only in Carrefour. We've received similar consumer complaints about many supermarkets, including Wal-Mart," said Zhao Jiaoli, secretary-general of the Shanghai Commission of Consumers' Rights and Interests Protection.

The deceptive pricing shows "there is room for improvement in law enforcement", said Zou Rong, a law professor at East China University of Political Science and Law.

Law enforcement departments should launch investigations into such illegal practices if consumers and media complain about deceptive pricing, he said.

Zou suggested that authorities mobilize the public to help them to supervise pricing.

Some netizens said Carrefour's deceptive pricing had taken advantage of customers' trust in its reputation.

"Customers should look closely at the quality of goods instead of the brand of the retailer. The deceptive pricing by Carrefour teaches us a lesson," netizen kgboly wrote on an online forum affiliated to

"It is hard for customers to remember all the price marks during shopping," said Ding Xiaoyu, a 28-year-old resident of Beijing's Xicheng district.

"I have to take photos by mobile phone to double-check whether the cashier is honest about their discount information," she said.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, also urged authorities to step up price checks ahead of the Spring Festival, which falls on Feb 3 this year.

The Spring Festival holidays are usually the busiest shopping season, as the public makes large purchases of food and gifts for families and friends.

Xinhua - China Daily


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