Auckland Pak'nSave fined for charging customers more at the till than what was shown on the shelf

A South Auckland Pak'nSave has been fined $78,000 for discrepancies between the promotional price displayed or advertised and the price charged at the till.

A file image of supermarket checkouts. Source: 1 NEWS

Kennedy’s Foodcentre (2003) Limited, trading as Pak'nSave Māngere, had earlier pleaded guilty to six charges of making false and/or misleading representations about price, under the Fair Trading Act 1986, the Commerce Commission said today in a press release.

The store charged a higher price than advertised six times during June and October 2018. 

It included four occasions in which sliced salmon was displayed at $8.99 but charged at $10.79; two instances where mushrooms were displayed at $4.99 but charged at $6.99; and one occasion where avocados were displayed at three for $5 but charged at $1.99 each.

The promotional pricing was advertised online via the Pak'nSave website using a Māngere-specific webpage, and/or on price tickets and signs in-store.

The store was charged after Commerce Commission staff carried out secret shops to check pricing. 

They raised the issues with staff at the time, but found when returning the following day the prices were still incorrect. 

In a written decision, Judge McNaughton in the Manukau District Court said the conduct “was repeatedly careless and not immediately rectified.”

“The pricing discrepancies related to a number of individual items across different departments of the supermarket and they were repeated, and the defendant did not immediately take steps to correct its pricing systems,” he said.

Once notified of the investigation the store took steps to remedy the problems “but the immediate failure to act was inexcusable,” said Judge McNaughton.

Commerce Commission chair Anna Rawlings said supermarkets "must ensure that their systems are sufficiently robust to ensure that consumers are charged the right price and are not misled, as they were in this case."

"Consumers should be able to trust that the price displayed on the shelf is the price they will be charged," Rawlings said. "If a mistake is made, businesses should ensure consumers are compensated and take immediate steps to ensure that the mistake is not repeated.

"It is no defence to claim that error is somehow inherent in a business involving high volume, low value sales and regular changes in pricing."