February 3, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Supermarkets: more than 150 complaints per day

Inflation, which has been galloping at 30% for almost a year and a half, has opened a “Pandora’s box”, from which an unbearable rise in prices for food and essentials has spilled out.

Taking advantage of the general turmoil and confusion in the legislation, supermarkets arbitrarily raise prices on the shelves. At the same time, the packages of many branded goods are “imperceptibly” reduced in size, while remaining at the same price.

TA NEA reporters conducted their own investigation, finding, among other things, that 2022 ended with a 44.88% increase in food prices, while, according to the Hellenic Consumer Workers Union, the weight in packs was 238 items. food has been reduced.

In particular, despite the introduction of a consumer basket, prices for basic products such as pasta, sauces, detergents, chocolate and baby diapers increased by 30%, for meat and poultry – by 25%, for household chemicals – by 19%.

The phenomenon, which, according to consumer associations, has been observed since the first days of 2023, has caused bewilderment among citizens. A typical example is a package of frozen vegetables, which in the last week of 2022 was sold at 2.12 euros, and in the first week of 2023 – at 3.33 euros (an increase of 1.21 euros or 57.07%). Accordingly, a kilogram of flour, which cost 1.21 euros in 2022, began to cost 1.82 euros at the beginning of 2023 (an increase of 0.61 euros or 50.41%). At the same time, there is no shortage of complaints about the discrepancy between the indicated (on the packaging) and the actual quantity of products, and already on 238 labels the quantity of products is “officially” reduced.

Taking into account course “not to increase prices”, formed at the government level, many firms have no other choice. The alternative is to reduce the amount of goods in the package (for example, sugar. Instead of 1 kg – now 900 gr. But the packages look the same. And those citizens who are not so picky and do not look at the labels probably still think that they buy 1 kg, but for some reason the product ends faster…).

Consumer protection associations warn that it is estimated that in the near future, this practice will be “taken on board” by more companies, and the number of labels that reduce their content (often increasing the price) will exceed 50. Inevitably, the “trick” is characterized as speculative practice.

In particular consumer (family basketa) recorded a reduction of the product in the pack by 11%. Thus, for example, margarine worth 1.27 euros was replaced by a 200-gram package, and its price increased to 1.61 euros. Similarly, a 700-gram package of toast bread at €1.02 gave way to a 680-gram package at €1.29.

Frozen vegetables, which used to be sold at €2.99 for a 1,000-gram package, are now sold at €3.33 for a 900-gram package. However, for my part industry representatives respond that they came to this decision in order to avoid further price increases, which could even reach 60%.

According to Apostolos Rautopoulos, president of the Union of Consumer Market Workers, the “patent” refers not only to branded goods, but also to private label products, “a fact that creates the image of an uncontrolled market where everyone does what they want.”

The president of the Union of Small and Medium Supermarkets of Greece, Yiannis Pilidis, argues that businesses have the right to determine the size of their packaging, but do not have the right to raise prices at their discretion.

The above, as expected, has led to mass appeals of citizens, which, according to the Institute for the Protection of Consumer Rights, since the beginning of the year exceed 150 per day. INKA President Georgios Lechuritis speaks of an unprecedented wave of discontent, resentment and anger. The line ministry is using methods that will never lead to real price reductions,” he says, while emphasizing that special attention should be paid to the quality of products.

However sources in the Ministry of Development and Investment insist that the price increase for products included in the consumer basket is zero. The average basket price has remained stable for two weeks, they say, explaining that it was designed to give consumers, especially the most vulnerable, the choice of what to buy. “Since November, prices have remained at the same level,” they repeat. However, the picture of the supermarket counters (before and after the holidays) recorded by TA NEA is strikingly different…

Secretary-General for Trade and Consumer Protection Sotiris Anagnostopoulos reports that inflation is already de-escalating, which will gradually shift to food and basic necessities. “The government, wishing to curb the deceit of citizens, has set about creating a new platform for complaints about violations of trade rules, which has already entered into force. Complaints can be submitted by consumers themselves to kataggelies.mindev.gov.gr by name or anonymously.

Besides there is a special provision of the law for reporting cases of fictitious discountsas well as the imposition of fines, which will reach 4% of the total turnover of the violating enterprise.

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