The price of tomatoes displayed at a hypermarket. Hypermarkets should treat customers fairly by ensuring they are paying the right price at the cashier counters. (FILE PIC)

IWAS recently caught in a messy situation while shopping at a local hypermarket in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. It was a bitter experience that I hope I never have to endure again.

I have been to countless hypermarkets to do my grocery shopping and I have encountered problems related to price discrepancy every now and then. The price shown on the label on the shelf is different from what is shown at the checkout counter, with the latter usually higher.

There were times that I walked into stores to shop for some household items, and walked out feeling annoyed and dissatisfied after having a row with one of the supervisors at the cashier counter. Usually, I would not make a big deal out of it, but this time I have had enough.

A few days ago, I decided to buy some office supplies in bulk. I checked the labels and prices of each item to make sure I knew exactly what I was buying. I took a packet of sheet protectors and noticed their price on the label. I then proceeded to the price checker just to be sure.

Unsurprisingly, the price that was shown was higher than what was shown on the shelf.

I noticed ring files that were on promotion and grabbed a number of them and put them into my trolley. I had made it a point to calculate the total amount before heading for the cashier counter.

To my surprise, the total was much higher than my calculation. When I enquired about the difference in price, the cashier looked puzzled, saying it was the final price of the items. I demanded to see the supervisor while the line of customers behind me grew longer.

After I continued refusing to pay the higher amount, the supervisor ultimately told the cashier to key in the lower amount.

As I walked back to my car, I told myself that enough was enough. I had tolerated this for years and all I had been doing was bring in the supervisor, or manager on duty for a quick fix. The worst part is that this happens almost every time I go to the store, and the problem doesn’t seem to be going away.

I tried a different approach this time and posted about the nasty experience on their Facebook page, in addition to sending them a complaint by email.

In my email, I expressed my disappointment and threatened to lodge an official report with the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry.

The following day, I received a call from the general manager of the hypermarket, who apologised profusely for my unpleasant experience, before admitting that it had indeed been a problem for some time now.

He said my email would serve as a reminder to his staff to be more meticulous and careful in making sure something like this never happens again. He promised to have the prices in the hypermarket checked thoroughly within the week, with the hope that I don’t proceed with lodging a report with the authorities.

I decided to give them one more chance, hoping that this would be a lesson for them to not have a lackadaisical attitude when it comes to their jobs.

My point here is simple: there is no need for screaming matches in the first place if stores nationwide are more thorough with ensuring their customers are treated justly in terms of pricing.

There isn’t a need for threats in the first place if stores nationwide are more careful with making sure their customers are satisfied with the services provided.

There isn’t a need for anger and frustration in the first place, if stores nationwide are held accountable for making sure their customers have a generally positive experience while shopping.

Staying alert and taking responsibility will go a long way in making sure customers keep coming back in the long run. I hope this will serve as a lesson for other stores out there.

The writer, a lecturer at Sunway College, is a Malaysian-born Eurasian with Scottish/Japanese/Indian lineage. She believes in a tomorrow where there is no racism and hatred.

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