Not advertising shelf prices

Recently I visited Oakleigh Shopping Centre where Muffin Break does not show prices. I asked the woman what was the reason for not doing so but she just said ‘we do not’. I then asked what this muffin cost and she told me. I am concerned that this is not only illegal but also discrimanatory. Who knows when one customer pays more or less than the next customer?

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This is an interesting point you have raised…

It appears that they can legally do so…

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said shops could legally withhold price displays, as long as any verbal explanation of the prices was not misleading.

“If customers don’t like it, they don’t have to shop there,” a spokesman said. “This is when competitive forces come into play. If a shop is unpleasant, people will stop going there.”

If customers don’t like it, they don’t have to shop there, that is exactly what I would do. Not knowing isn’t discriminatory, but one can’t make an informed decision without entering into a conversation with the retailer…and the retailer could charge you what they like. It could also be open to abuse where they charge more if they think you can afford it/likely to pay the inflated price. This is why I wouldn’t be their customer as there is no transparency.

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I guess it is because I am so used to seeing everything clearly priced that if I see a store where prices aren’t clearly displayed, I go elsewhere.

I wonder if their sales went up or down? I would guess down.

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I wonder if they are open to price negotiation. If I was to go there for a coffee and muffin at 0800 in the morning, then a nice fresh muffin would be worth much more than one eight hours later after sitting there for that length of time. See what happens.

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Many offer a cake and Coffee special each day on selected cakes or muffins, as well as early bird discounted drops. One that was a regular stop offered an even cheaper special for afternoon tea to clear the display. Signage helps.

How old is the stock might be another question?

I know where I’d go.

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As a matter of business, many will not arbitrarily discount product for a random customer, but might give a break to their daily ones. If they have product to dump at the end of the day they can (product depending) offer it on discount the next day or write it off as spoilage against their profits.

Most know the moment they are known to be susceptible to bargaining on perishables their business and reputation will be affected, and not for the better.

The absence of prices usually causes me to walk, yet my regular bread shop has core products that are priced, and others that are rotated on offer every few days that are not priced. There might be 6 of this and 6 of that and 8 of something else all unpriced - a smaller operation - plus their core breads and rolls in many dozens that are clearly priced. Before I first bought unpriced ones I asked and the prices were quite reasonable; those prices have not gone up in years and are now Very Reasonable. On days when I shop there later in the day and they have excess remaining they often add a nice roll or two to my buy whether I am there for only my regular loaf or with a few add-ons.

Depending on the shop and where it is located and whether it caters to mostly regulars or walk-bys, lacking prices on every product is a bad look either way, but small shops with limited staff might have operational reasons not to price everything when much of it changes daily and the walk-by customer is a rarity.

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In Cairns. we have a number of Asian outlets in the shopping centre food courts.

The less ethical ones display an empty small, medium and large plastic container on top of the bain maries so customers can see how much they will get for the 3 different prices.

When closing time approaches, they remove the empty display containers and then unload the bain marie leftovers into the medium size containers whilst displaying a sign of the clearance price and the normal price of the large container.

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Our little supermarket often has fruit & veg unpriced, which is a strategy to move higher priced items. You wouldn’t buy grapes if they were $25/kg, but would pick them up unpriced and not notice the cost as they are rung up. The lower prices of the other goods around them give the impression they are probably at that price level too. They have a discount bay for old F&V, and when it goes past that it goes into an Animal Feed Box at $10. I guess nothing gets dumped.

I would like to know the price before purchase, but experience says “leave it, overpriced”.

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I guess that this would be an exception to my rule too. If it was a regular shopping spot, & I knew their pricing was fair, I would still go and buy from them.

Exactly why I generally avoid unpriced product.

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I wonder how they get around Unit Pricing? I know my little supermarket is too small and is exempt from the legislation, and maybe similar with hot bread shops and the like. But what about the larger supermarkets with no shelf price, and therefore no Unit Price?

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Even if the Code requires a supermarket to provide unit pricing because it is bigger than 1000sq m and sells the specified minimum range of food based grocery items, it only has to so for items for which a selling price is displayed.

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I have been concerned and complained for many years about non display of selling prices by some retailers, especially convenience stores.

And, I am unconvinced by the above argument and it as the solution to the problem. It has not been accepted as the solution for many other retailer practices that are not in the interests of consumers, for example there are laws prohibiting misleading, deceptive and unconscionable conduct and there are weights and measures regulations.

And, despite the same argument being used by some people who opposed it, we got the Code that requires certain grocery retailers to provide unit prices for items sold in constant measure prepackages.

The argument also:

  • assumes, incorrectly, that all consumers act rationally
  • does not acknowledge that in non COVID times, in some places many consumers will be overseas visitors unfamiliar with what to expect in shops here and with alternative places to shop.
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I am with you on that!

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Bunnings near me have an item that has no price on the shelf I have been in there 3 times in the last 5 days each time I take this item to the register when I’m leaving tell them there isn’t a price on the shelf and get them to scan it then say it’s more expensive than I want to pay and leave it at the registers,I’m in there 2-3 times a week to buy materials and usually walk passed the display and these are a discontinued item no longer on their website so I’m hoping they will reduce them :slight_smile:

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No prices on display is a sign of poor service. No customer should need to ask, or wait in line, just for a price. And surely there would not be a huge number of different prices for different muffins? So not a complicated task. Price is part of the information we need for the private debate of whether to buy, which and how many. I don’t want pressure from the owner just because I have gained their attention. It shows lack of consideration to the customer. I would just walk out.

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Considering poor service still being an issue, I would say retailers are not always rational! What are they there for if not to serve the customer well enough to encourage customers to return?

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I agree to both your comments!
I have written to the ACCC. Will let Choice community know their response.

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Please do not hold your breath waiting for them to do anything.

As far as shops not displaying shelf prices in this day and age, it is beyond pathetic.

Just look back before barcode scanning and electronic checkouts when the larger stores affixed price labels to every product with price labelling guns and the small stores wrote the prices on the packaging, except at Jack The Slasher, where customers were required to write the price on each item themselves, but there were still shelf price signs to refer to.

Any business which won’t clearly display prices these days does not deserve to be in business.

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I never shop at convenience stores (far too expensive), and will mostly avoid places which don’t display a price.

By not displaying prices they are doing themselves out of business. Their problem, not mine.

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I agree, Fred123. I am sceptical ACCC will respond any time this year, at best. I will ask Muffin Break on Facebook and see what happens (if anything).

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