Czech Trade Inspection Authority fines sellers more than four million crowns in Q1 for questionable practices

Photo: Kristýna Maková

More than four million crowns in fines were handed down to retailers by the Czech Trade Inspection Authority in Q1 of 2016. On Monday, Czech Radio reported that the bureau uncovered wrongdoing in around 40 percent of checks.

Photo: Kristýna Maková
An old adage says that if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is, arguably one reason the Czech Trade Inspection Authority conducted some 2,000 checks at retailers in the first quarter of 2016. The findings? That some 40 percent of retailers proved to be less than scrupulous, resorting to numerous tricks to attract consumers, from false advertising to questionable sales offers. The most common practices uncovered included retailers slashing boosted original prices to fool consumers into thinking they were getting great deals for items ‘on sale’.

The Czech Trade Inspection Authority’s spokesman Jiří Fröhlich told Czech Radio more:

“Generally-speaking, retailers are well aware the consumers react to terms like ‘Sale!’ or ‘Reduced prices!’ and so on. So a retailer can boost the price of an item, say a loaf of bread, to 100 crowns one day and sell it for 20 crowns the next, announcing the item is ’80 percent off’.

“In worse cases, retailers put items on sale that were never sold for at the list price. So the Czech Trade Inspection Authority recommends that consumers shop around, to learn what the real list prices of items on the market are.”

In that respect, more and more internet users have come to rely on online price search or price comparison engines, to get a better idea of how much certain items cost as well as their price history.

Photo: Ambro /
When it comes to sales, one area where retailers often mark down items drastically and are allowed to do so is in the case of perishables. Under the law, retailers can lower the price on foodstuffs a day or a few days before expiry dates without any problem, provided certain conditions are met: namely, that the reason for their sale, ie. impending expiry, be clearly specified. The Czech Trade Inspection Authority’s spokesman Jiří Fröhlich again:

“There is no law banning sale prices for items with an expiry date. When it comes to a large drop in prices, we recommend that consumers check the expiry date or ‘Best by’ date. Items which are expired of course shouldn’t be sold anymore. Items which are reduced for reason of impending expiry also need to be sold separately and need to be advertised as such.”