Demand the Right Price!

Objective :

  • Teach students about consumer rights;
  • List the areas of intervention governed by the Consumer Protection Act;
  • Explain the roles of organizations and institutions that can tell consumers more about their rights and obligations;
  • Learn about the recourses available to consumers and merchants in asserting their rights.

Description :

Using a checklist and various information tools, students answer an online questionnaire on pricing accuracy and how prices are indicated in stores.

Equipment :

Introduction :

To kick off activity, the teacher presents the Price Accuracy Policy on the board and asks students:

Q - How many of you have seen this sign before?

A - [Students answer.]

Q - Where have you seen it?

A - Small ones near every cash register and scanner used by clients, or larger ones on the walls of bigger stores.

Q - What does the sign mean?

A - It means the merchant must apply the Price Accuracy Policy if there is an incorrect price at the cash register. If the error concerns a product:

  • that costs $10 or less, the client is given the product free of charge;
  • that costs more than $10, the merchant must sell the product at the advertised price and give the consumer a $10 discount.

Q - Have you ever found a pricing error on a product that you bought?

A - [Students answer.]

Q - If you told the merchant about the error, what happened?

A - [Students answer.]

The Price Accuracy Policy involves certain subtleties that can lead to a range of interpretations, sometimes incorrect, by merchants and consumers

Pricing errors are common in stores. Consumers must be vigilant to ensure their rights are respected and that they exercise the recourses available to them.

The teacher informs the students that the following activity is designed to familiarize them with the Price Accuracy Policy so they can make sure it is applied when they find a pricing error.

Explanations :

What is the Price Accuracy Policy? When does it apply?

The rule of thumb is as follows: all merchants must indicate the price on each product or on each product packaging sold in its store. However, a merchant may choose to be exempted from this obligation. It must then, among other obligations:

  • display the price of each item on a label applied to the shelf, near the product;
  • use a scanner at each cash register;
  • apply the Price Accuracy Policy. This policy stipulates that the consumer must be compensated if the price at the cash register is higher than that indicated on the shelf.

Certain supermarkets, pharmacies, and department stores are among the retailers that apply the Price Accuracy Policy.

Are there businesses to which the policy does not apply?

A retailer is not required to apply the Price Accuracy Policy if a pricing sticker is applied to each product. If you encounter a pricing error with this type of merchant, the store must sell you the item at the lowest price indicated on the product, never at a higher price.

The teacher asks students to read the Price Accuracy Policy checklist.

Instructions :

Working in teams or individually, students use the information provided under “Theoretical explanation” and in the Price Accuracy Policy checklist to answer an online quiz titled Price Indicated in the Store.

To benefit fully from this exercise, students should take the time to read the explanations provided for each question of the quiz.

Conclusion :

To wrap up the activity, the teacher asks students:

Q - Out of a total of 10 points, what was your score on the quiz?

A - [Students answer.]

Q - What did you learn through this Price Accuracy Policy quiz?

A - The following elements should come up in the discussion:

  • The Price Accuracy Policy applies only at businesses that have chosen an exemption from the obligation to place individual price stickers on each item for sale.
  • If the consumer notices a pricing error for a product that costs $10 or less, he or she must be given the product free of charge.
  • If the consumer notices a pricing error for a product that costs more than $10, the merchant must sell the item at the advertised price and add a $10 discount for that consumer.
  • When the error is in the consumer’s favour, the Price Accuracy Policy does not apply and the consumer must pay the lowest price shown.
  • If the same error is found for identical items, the merchant must sell each item at the lowest price shown in the store and the compensation set out in the policy (item free or discounted by $10) applies only to one item.
  • If the merchant forgets to remove the sale sticker on a product after the sale is over, the merchant can sell the item at the regular price if a validity date for the sale is marked on the sticker. If the date is not clearly indicated, the merchant must compensate the consumer in accordance with the policy.
  • Even when the business is exempted from the obligation to apply a price stick to every product, the policy does not apply to clothing and items without a barcode, such as fruit and vegetables sold in bulk, as well as milk, prescription drugs, and alcohol purchased elsewhere than at the SAQ.
  • The policy applies even if the transaction is not finished, provided the item is purchased.
  • If the consumer only notices the pricing error once back home, the policy applies if he or she returns to the store to obtain compensation.

Finally, the teacher reminds students that it's important to exercise their rights, even when there are obstacles to doing so (a long line at the cash register, fear of looking cheap or detail-obsessed, low cost of the purchased item, etc.).

Below are a few tips to help students apply the Price Accuracy Policy:

  • Look for the policy sign near the cash registers.
  • Ask to see a supervisor.
  • Use your smart phone to show the merchant the web page on this topic on the Office website.
  • Contact the Office de la protection du consommateur to report a merchant who refuses to apply the policy or fails to properly identify pricing in the store.