The National Consumer Commission (NCC) has embarked on a campaign to ensure that vulnerable consumers do not have pay more than the price they see displayed on items when shopping.

“The commission is embarking on a campaign to raise awareness about consumers’ rights when it comes to the display of prices, to prevent especially vulnerable consumers from suffering unfair treatment at the hands of retailers,” says its spokesperson, Trevor Hattingh.

Consumers with low literacy levels, who make up a large portion of the population, can easily be duped by unscrupulous retailers, especially during the busy festive season shopping rush.

“The campaign, which started at the beginning of the week, will also seek to encourage voluntary compliance among retailers with the Consumer Protection Act’s (CPA) pricing provisions, which are contained in section 23 of the Act,” Hattingh said.

Over the next two weeks, the NCC will undertake unannounced inspections at retailers around Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Middelburg to assess compliance with the CPA’s pricing provisions.

Key among the pricing provisions is that information should be adequately displayed, expressed in the currency of the country, and be written in plain and understandable language.

The commission, which is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, had expressed concern at the growing trend by retailers to display prices in multiple currencies on a single item, which it believes has the potential to create confusion for consumers.

The NCC hopes to gain better understanding of the impact of this practice through research which it is undertaking as part of the campaign.