National Consumer Week – an underwhelming event?

The event ran from 17 to 21 November. If it passed you by, then you are not alone. One of our regular contributors, Philip Bladon, provides this comment.

The theme of the week was: â??Be a savvy shopper this Christmasâ??

According to ‘TS Today’, (November 2008), the magazine of the Trading Standards Institute:

 â??Throughout the week, trading standards professionals will be highlighting their concerns and urging the Government to do more to protect consumers from dangerous and fake goods.  Authorities are free to focus on whatever aspect of consumer protection they wish during the week, and activities will vary from service to serviceâ??

Trading Standards Officers have a duty to ensure unit prices are displayed in metric for certain â??loose goodsâ??.  The law allows for dual pricing as long as the equivalent prices are shown and the metric unit price is no less prominent than the imperial unit price. Many local authoritiesâ?? trading standards services have decided that this duty should have a low priority.

So, if you wish to be a savvy shopper by using unit prices to make savvy choices between market stalls and supermarkets, do not expect any help from Trading Standards. As an example, recently brussels sprouts on a market stall were â??79 p/lbâ??, and in the nearby supermarket they were â??£1.78/kgâ??.  Which is the better buy?

Savvy shoppers are invited to comment on National Consumer Week on the Governmentâ??s Consumer Direct web site:

https://secure.consumerdirect.gov.uk/savvy/submitstory.aspx

And the answer to which is the best buy? The prices on the stall and in the supermarket were almost the same, so perhaps your decision should have been made on the basis of quality, but only after decoding the price information.

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4 Responses to National Consumer Week – an underwhelming event?

  1. lee kelly says:

    of course a kg seems more! its twice the weight as a lb because there is 2.2 lbs in a kg, thats what they should put that information in markets & shops so people are not confused? if some one is confused (as i always use kgs) i just say in bags of sugar as they are 1 kg per standard bag then people are not confused!

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  2. Shaun says:

    I don't see why metric prices should only be displayed in large quantities. Woolworths display the price of pick and mix sweets per 100g so why not offer other goods in small amounts aswell. If metric quantities are only legal in larger amounts compared with imperial why not legalise smaller ones?

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  3. In response to Shaun, a metric unit price can be shown per 100 grams,
    for example £x / 100 g or y pence / 100 g.
    Consumers should not be expected to work out the best value with prices in different measurement systems, for example a stall displaying a price for 1/4 lb with a different stall showing a price for 100 g.

    If dual pricing is displayed on a stall, Trading Standards officers have a duty to check and ensure that the equivalent prices shown are correct.

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  4. John Frewen-Lord says:

    Shaun:

    I think you perhaps misread what was actually said. It is not the metric unit that must be displayed "... no less prominently than the imperial unit", but the metric unit PRICE. I don't believe there is anything to stop a retailer from displaying whatever metric unit he deems appropriate (per 100 g, per kg, per 100 mL, per L, etc), as long as the price accompanying that unit is no less prominent than any equivalent imperial price.

    Going back on what has been said before, I still get annoyed at supermarket deli counters and the like when the counter assistant insists on converting the displayed measured weight into imperial units. When they something like, "That's just over a pound," I always respond with, "No, that's 475 grams, just as your scales show." They are often confused - as if they wonder why anyone would want to deal in metric! We still have a long way to go.

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