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MANAGING YOUR MONEY BE ALERT WHEN SHOPPING

Every day, thousands of people buy goods at supermarkets or other stores. Without realising it, shoppers often end up paying the wrong price for items. This is because they are not watchful about pricing while shopping.

Do you pay attention to the prices displayed on supermarket shelves? If you do, you will notice that sometimes the prices on the items don't match the prices at the till or those advertised in the media.

Shoppers normally do not notice the price differences and often pay too much for an item without realising it. It is important to be alert when choosing and paying for your groceries.

What can affect the prices?

Shops would normally not deliberately mislead their customers. It is very easy for a mistake to occur and there are different factors that play a role in pricing.

For example, errors often occur during weekends when supermarkets change their prices or offer specials. It also happens with fresh 2010products like vegetables, which have to be kept cool. Frozen items covered in ice are sometimes too cold to scan and the cashier has to enter the number by hand. The cashier may also have trouble reading the numbers when the code is written by hand.

Cashiers can also accidentally ring up items of the person standing in line behind you or an item can accidentally be entered twice. In addition, when a shop has new equipment, it can read a bar code on an item incorrectly.

What you can do

According to the South African National Consumer Union (SANCU), mistakes do happen and it is the consumers' responsibility to check the prices while they are still in the shop.

If you notice that certain prices differ, do not panic or be rude to cashiers - they often work long hours and anyone can make a mistake. Just tell the cashier about the price difference and ask him or her to correct the price. If the cashier cannot help you, speak to the manager, supervisor or a consumer advisor.

Insist on the lower price

The Consumer Protection Act says that if more than one price is displayed, the lower price applies. So, you must insist on paying the lower price as advertised because it is your right to do so.

Before you leave the store make sure that all the items you have paid for have been put in your shopping bag. Small items can sometimes be covered by shopping bags at the till.

- Samona Murugan