'Special' offers, receipts & recycling: Wendy Knowler’s 'watch-outs of the week'
In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use:
Can a retailer refuse to print you a receipt?
That’s what Jean wanted to know. “Under the guise of ‘going digital’, some stores at my local mall are no longer providing proof-of-purchase receipts,” she wrote.
“One of them issues a non-itemised slip with their tax invoice number, the date, and the quantity of items purchased, but the nature of the items themselves remain a mystery.
“I was told by a cashier that the full receipt would be e-mailed to me, but I have yet to receive it.”
Another store didn’t issue Jean with any form of receipt at the time of purchase, promised to e-mail it to her, but that didn't happened either, she said.
“It is concerning that the customer is forced to trust the supplier after purchase, by walking out of the store with no receipt, which one needs to return the product.”
It’s true that without a receipt you have no right of return, if the product proves to be defective. And it has to be a detailed receipt, because that’s the only way to prove what you bought, from where and when.
Section 26 of the Consumer Protection Act makes this a legal requirement. It reads: “A supplier of goods or services must provide a written record of each transaction to the consumer to whom any goods or services are supplied.”
“The record must include at least the following information: the supplier’s full name, or registered business name, and VAT registration number, if any; the address of the premises; the date of sale; the name or description of what you bought; the unit price, quantity, tax and total price.”
So you have a right to insist on being given that detailed receipt, in your hand, when they hand over your purchases. Having it e-mailed to you appears to be very “save the planet”, but as many have discovered, you don’t always receive it. But that printed receipt is useless to you if you can’t find it when you need it.
So snap and scan it to a special receipts folder, or go old-school and pop it into a dedicated file, box or drawer.
Beware the maths-challenged special offer
We consumers are conditioned to think we’ll get a better deal if we buy the large pack or the “buy-two” offer — especially if accompanied by an attention-grabbing large price sign — but that’s not always the case.
Social media is full of images of “not so special” supermarket offers. This week someone posted several Shoprite “shelfies” on Twitter, including a large display sign for Sasko sliced white bread — R9.99 each or two for R25; and Cadbury 80g slabs of chocolate — R11.99 each or two for R26.
I forwarded them to the Shoprite Group, commenting that it’s safe to assume that consumers wouldn’t choose to buy more than one of the same item if that came with a price penalty. “So what is going on here?” I asked. “And why does this happen so often?”
Responding, Shoprite agreed that a “buy-two” offer “must always be a good deal for the consumer.
“We invite our customers to immediately engage with us if that is not the case, so that urgent action can be taken to rectify any possible oversight,” the retailer said.
“The incorrect pricing on the products in question was the result of human error. Errors of this kind creep in from time to time when changes are applied manually at store level to accommodate promotional deals, either nationally or divisionally, at short notice.
“We apologise sincerely and ensure our customers that we continuously work to improve our systems and processes and on enforcing disciplines across the merchandising system and in store.”
Shelfies are always welcome — e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put a cap on it!
Did you know that the caps on water and cooldrink bottles are also recyclable?
Too few people replace the caps on the bottles after consuming the contents, which is why they end up littering our beaches and other public spaces in such huge numbers.
Cape Town-based NGO the Beach Co-op Organisation, which has been cleaning the rocky shore at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg, Cape Town, every new moon since 2015, and logging what they find, ranks those bottle caps as the second-worst pollution culprit after individual sweet wrappers.
There are moves afoot to introduce a tethered cap to bottles, meaning they will remain attached to the bottle after opening, thus drastically reducing cap pollution, in the same way as can tabs no longer detach. But in the meantime, you can do your bit for the environment by holding onto the cap while drinking your water or fizzy drink, and then screwing it back on before discarding it — to be recycled, ideally — so that it doesn’t end up as litter.
The caps are made from different types of plastic and are easily separated from the PET bottles during the recycling process, often via a “float/sink” process, where the denser PET sinks in water and can be separated from the lighter cap and label material.
Both PET and the cap materials are used to manufacture new products.