Czech watchdog attacks Carrefour for 'false' sale

7th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PRAGUE, Jan 7 (AFP) - The Czech retail regulator said Friday it intended to fine French supermarket giant Carrefour heavily for misleading shoppers in a major post-Christmas sale campaign.

PRAGUE, Jan 7 (AFP) - The Czech retail regulator said Friday it intended to fine French supermarket giant Carrefour heavily for misleading shoppers in a major post-Christmas sale campaign.

The director of the Czech Trade Inspectorate, Jiri Pekny, told AFP that the company had announced price cuts from inflated initial prices and had charged customers more than the advertised sale prices at the check-outs.

"This is the worst case so far we have had in the country. The results were alarming and the worst case we have found in this country, Pekny said.

Carrefour denies the allegations.

Pekny continued: "We just did not expect to find what we did and it's almost certain we will fine Carrefour the maximum possible amount of CSK 1 million (EUR 32,000, USD 44,000).

"Carrefour were guilty of breaking the consumers' law by quoting original prices that were higher than they actually were when advertising sale prices and of charging customers at the check-out higher amounts than the sale prices which were marked on the shelves," he added.

Trade inspectors visited the company's 10 stores in the Czech Republic after hundreds of complaints in a single day over a huge marketing campaign promising savings of up to 95 percent in the New Year sale.

Many customers were left disappointed when only a very limited number of goods were available in stores.

"It was also unethical to lure customers with the offers of such huge savings when the reality was very different and Carrefour knew in advance that they only had five or 10 of the items. Some goods were even left in the storerooms. While that may not be against the law it's unethical," he said.

Pekny said that the inspectorate was now looking to change the consumer law based on its findings to bring it more into line with other European Union countries.

"We want to be able to punish companies for unethical practices and to ensure that, like in countries like Germany, shops must have a certain amount of stock at advertised sale prices," he said.

But Carrefour's spokeswoman in the Czech Republic, Jana Havlickova, denied that the company had acted improperly.

"Sales are used to get rid of old goods so we can't order in new large quantities, and the amounts are limited and not available in all stores. We made it quite clear on our sale leaflets that stock was limited," Havlickova told AFP.

"We have not broken any law and we acted fairly. It's not in our interest to disappoint customers and the majority were satisfied," she insisted.

The Czech inspectorate is now also carrying out checks on other retail chains.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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