Loyalty in Question

15/04/2016 09:56

Have you paid a substantial amount of money for a product only to discover that the same is cheaper at another store? You may have felt cheated by the store for having to pay a higher price.

Unfortunately many consumers tend to rely on the same trader for all goods and services without conducting comparative shopping. This happens because consumers may have been accessing the same traders for years and do not see the need to shop elsewhere in order to obtain a better deal.

Comparative shopping is simply the practice of comparing prices before actually shopping in order to achieve the best deals and pricing on merchandise and services.

With the increasing prices of goods and services, it is essential for consumers to shop around and settle for the best deals only. Consumers should think smartly when shopping; after all their hard earned money is spent on the goods they purchase.

The Council continues to receive queries from consumers who have purchased products at  higher prices and intended to return the products after noticing the same product at a cheaper price elsewhere. Consumers are reminded that a product cannot be returned or they cannot be provided a refund only because they do not want a product.

Here are some incidences where consumers failed to conduct comparative shopping:

  • Mr Sam used to buy his shoes from a particular shoe shop. On one occasion, he purchased a pair of sandals for $99 for work from the same shoe shop. A week later, he noticed the same pair of sandals selling for $75 at another shoe shop.
  • Ms Shah is a loyal customer of a well known supermarket for many years. Despite this, she is always complaining about the high prices of some groceries to her friends all the time. She always shops at this supermarket as it is conveniently located near her residence.
  • Timothy bought a branded mobile phone for $599 from a reputable mobile company. While shopping at another reputable store he discovered the same phone displayed at a price of $499.

In these incidences, consumers failed to take responsibility to shop around and conduct their comparative shopping. Had these consumers shopped around before purchasing they would have been able to settle for a better deal.

Many consumers also have the habit of complaining about the high prices at supermarkets, but yet continue to shop there. If you feel that the supermarket you have been accessing is expensive, then perhaps it is time to boycott such supermarkets and find the one that suits you best.

What these examples point out is that the purchasing power lies with the consumer. Consumers have the power to affect change with every purchasing decision. But many consumers underestimate the value of comparative shopping.

When consumers take the responsibility to shop around, they become more educated on consumer issues and different products in the marketplace; such as the ability to identify the malpractices present in the market place. This includes gaining knowledge on shoddy goods, fake products, misleading advertisements, short weight and measures, unsafe/defective appliances and overpricing.

The Council, during its regular market surveillances and price surveys notice the differences in prices of products at different supermarkets and stores. Hence, this proves that consumers will definitely benefit from shopping around. Not only will consumers be able to get a better deal but will also benefit in terms of product quantity and quality. Comparative shopping is also an ideal way of keeping within a budget.

Consumers are encouraged to make informed decisions and not rely solely on the traders. The Council continues to urge all consumers to be smart shoppers and take advantage of comparative shopping.