The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo/Chrispen Gumunyu, Business Reporters
THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has taken a swipe on unscrupulous businesses, which are clandestinely pricing their goods differently depending on mode of payment, citing that such practice is hurting consumers’ purchasing.
CCZ Matabeleland region manager Mr Comfort Muchekeza said a number of retail outlets across the country were deliberately charging different prices for payment transacted in cash, mobile money and bank cards.
“Prices should be the same whether one is using cash payment, swipe or mobile money and anything outside that is illegal,” he said.
The three-tier or multi-tier pricing system whereby retailers and other businesspeople charge extra for payments made in mobile money or bank cards and less for bond transactions is still rife despite the fact that such practice is in violation of the Bank Use Promotion Act. Mr Muchekeza said some supermarkets are cunningly offering discount to customers purchasing using cash.
“We now have some supermarkets offering up to 30 percent discount to customers that transact using cash. Under such circumstances there is no legal instrument to penalise them because they display the higher price as their selling price and the lower price is given as a special discount at a point of sale system,” he said.
Mr Muchekeza said the price disparity was mostly rife at butcheries.
“We have similar instances with butcheries but we are negotiating with them. Their argument is that when farmers sell their cattle to them they don’t accept anything other than cash payment but we are persuading them to have a single price. Some of the butcheries have complied while other always hide under the guise that network is down,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu said the price disparities were largely due to speculative behavior by unscrupulous businesses.
“The differing prices based on payment are an indication of market failure birthed out of speculative behavior by business and lack of confidence on the general market. Pricing in the economy is seriously distorted and does not reflect formal market fundamentals obtaining at a particular time. Most goods and services in Zimbabwe are overpriced based on income levels,” he said.