Over one-third of shops incorrectly advertise prices

Over one-third of shops incorrectly advertise prices
The services will be rolled out in newsagents across Belgium. Photo by Helen Lyons/The Brussels Times

More than one-third of shops in Belgium that were visited by an inspector last year were incorrectly advertising prices, according to figures from State Secretary for Consumer Protection Eva De Bleeker.

Of all the checks carried out by the Economic Inspectorate, 36.5% of the companies committed infringements of the legislation on the indication of prices, for example by not (clearly) indicating prices or not including taxes.

"The consumer should always be able to see the correct price of a product or service. This is essential for market transparency and allows consumers to compare prices objectively," De Bleeker said in a statement.

Every year, the Economic Inspectorate carries out an annual general survey into how the basic economic legislation is implemented, including the registration of businesses and correct display of information on websites.

Half of shops breaking the law

In 2021, food stores, health care retailers (such as pharmacies, opticians and drugstores), home improvement stores, dry-cleaners and newsagents were inspected. The checks showed that incorrectly-indicated prices is common.

Half of the inspected shops (1,168 of the 2,350) were found to be in breach of the basic legislation, of which the majority were incorrectly indicating prices. This resulted in 1,320 warnings and 151 official reports being drawn up.

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Only 3.5% of the commercial businesses that were inspected had committed a serious infringement of the rules. However, De Bleeker stressed that these results show "why control is crucial," adding that she wanted the Economic Inspectorate to continue its rigorous checks in order to push the figures down.

Consumers who encounter "dubious items" while shopping should report them to the hotline, De Bleeker added, stating that all reports are "taken seriously and followed up."

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