Retail operators short-changing consumers: CCZ
RETAIL operators are taking advantage of the use of plastic money to short-change unsuspecting customers by increasing prices of basic goods and commodities on electronic transactions, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has said.
The consumer watchdog has warned that such marginal increases of prices by supermarkets, especially, have led to a marginal increase in the cost of living.
In its latest bi-monthly survey, CCZ said the cost of living had increased from the end of August figure of $570,87 to $572,78 by end of September 2016, showing an increase of $1,91(or 0,33percent).
“There are various issues that may have caused the price increase of some products. These are the fluctuation of the fuel price and the approach of the festive season,” said CCZ.
“Supermarkets have taken advantage of the use of plastic money to increase the prices of basic commodities in small amounts such as 1c, 2c, 3c to 40c and consumers are not able to notice because in return they withdraw cash from these supermarkets.”
In a snap survey, Business Chronicle also observed that most supermarkets have limited or totally stopped giving out cash-back to consumers, citing cash constraints.
A till operator at a Bulawayo supermarket, who cannot be named for professional reasons, said their ability to give out cash-back was hinged on the volume of cash transactions performed.
“Since the accelerated use of plastic money, we have recorded a decrease in cash transactions, and so sometimes a till operator can have as little as $100 in their till from that day’s cash transactions,” said the till operator.
More people are increasingly using plastic money in the wake of biting cash shortages in the economy.
With banks limiting daily cash withdrawal limits to about $50, more depositors are spending days in queues and can only make transactions electronically.
The cost of living (as measured by CCZ) has been steadily increasing over the course of this year. The consumer watchdog noted that in January the cost of living stood at $557,58 for a family of six but jumped to $560,10 in February.
In March the figure rose to $561,06 and increased further to $563,82 in April before settling at $567,48 in May.
For the month of June the figure stood at $567,38, recording a $0,10 decrease and rose by $0,53 in July. The figure shot to $571,14 in August. - @BiancaMlilo