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While in retail, better look for detail

July 11, 2008 14:37 IST

Swanky, spacious showrooms, rows and rows of shelves with tempting offers, they mushroom in the metros, the air-conditioned comforts of retail chains, however, are also witnessing frayed tempers at payment counters with customers complaining of wrong billing or discrepancies in what was 'offered' on the shelves and the actual billing done.

Billing errors are common in supermarkets, says Sonia Kohli, a shopper. She was charged Rs 86 for a toothpaste under a 'super saver' offer on which the maximum retail price printed was just Rs 50. In a similar case, the billed price was Rs 80 when the actual price of the product was Rs 73.

When a complaint was made regarding the same the cash counter person blamed the barcodes. "These are just barcode errors, software problems or data entry mistakes which can be rectified," he said.

Gargie Sharma, who stays in a hostel says that 'once on checking the bill after returning home I found that I was charged for a product which I hadn't bought".            

Officials at a retail chain in the capital dismissed such occurrences as rare. "It is a rarest of the rare case", an executive said adding that the cashier might do it by mistake or he might swipe the product twice under the scanner as these people are not literate enough.

"But if a complaint is made then the error is corrected." 

However, not many people check their bills or do a check after returning home from a tiresome shopping trip.

A manager asked about the quality of products said, "Sometimes it does happen that the products are stacked at the discount section because they are nearing the date of expiry." 

He added that the concept of supermarkets and malls is new and with constant improvisation and lack of adequate trained staff there are bound to be some errors. The retail chains also suffer from problems like shoplifters or some anti-socials who misbehave with saleswomen, he said.

The cashier at yet another mall says that billing errors are rare but conceded that often products sold at discount were substandard, especially fruit juices , which are sold in offers of 'buy one get one free' when their expiry dates were nearing.

A cashier at a Big Apple store said that errors in billing was impossible as the chain had software installed in their machines that would either divide the price if it was in the 'buy one get one free' category or would charge Rs 0 for free products.

There are 137 'Reliance Fresh' stores in Delhi and 575 all over India. 'Vishal' has 150 stores all over India and '365shopping' has 50 stores in Delhi.

Uma Dhawan, a regular customer of supermarkets and malls, said, "I bought six pearlpet bottles under a super saver scheme on which I saved Rs 60 but later found that the quality which the pearlpet products offer was not good infact the bottles had scratches on them".

During peak hours, customers should check the expiry dates of the dairy products and must also assure that the chilling shelf from where they are picking up these products is cold and working properly advises a regular shopper.

This is not all, sometimes products don't even have a manufacturing date on them and many products are so old that even the prices are not visible.

Another shopper recounted the sight at a supermarket in the capital's Paschim Vihar. Cotton balls used for face cleansing purposes were themselves so bad that one would clean them before cleaning one's face with it!

The condition of certain juice packs was also so miserable as the edges of those packs were torn destroying the multi-layer packaging claimed by the brand and further spoiling the juice, said the shopper.

Gagan Dhavan, a regular customer of supermarkets said, "One must be careful while buying products especially electronic items and should check them before the purchase to ensure that there are no functional problems ". Tubelights, CFL bulbs, or any electronic item must be checked before purchase specially if they are offered free, he says.

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