Till attendants duping buyers


Cash-strapped consumers could unknowingly be losing more of their hard earned money at the till of some retail shops in the country following revelations that some till operators are either charging for goods one did not purchase or using wrong codes for products.

And the Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) has since warned that once proven guilty, the perpetrators will face a five year jail term and a fine of K500,000.

The operators are taking advantage of the gullibility of the Malawian consumer to make people pay more money for goods or charging them for goods they did not purchase despite the hyper inflation rate prevailing in the country which has eroded buying power.


And some angry consumers have taken to social media to voice out their concerns, alleging that the practice is common in most reknown retail shops in the country.

When contacted, CFTC confirmed receiving a complaint on the matter and said the malpractice is common among till operators using the newly introduced Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFD) machines.

CFTC says the most common malpractice is where till operators are punching in wrong codes for products completely different from the ones consumers have in their shopping baskests.


And Executive Director at CFTC, Wezi Malonda, has since warned that the perpetrators risk prosecution for such malpractices as it is a violation of the Consumers Protection Act.

Malonda said while CFTC is aware that the use of EFD machines is a new phenomenon in Malawi and that some users may not have acquired the necessary competences to operate them, it is still a clear violation of the Competition and Fair Trading Act for traders to issue receipts that contain products that a customer has not bought.

“The practice is infringing on consumer rights as they [consumers] end up paying for products which are different from what they have in their shopping baskets,” she said.

According to Malonda, Section 43(1)(f) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act makes it an offence for any trader to claim payment for unsolicited goods or services.

“This offence attracts a penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of K500,000 upon conviction by the courts,” she said.

Malonda has since warned all traders to desist from deliberately punching wrong codes in EFD machines, saying such conduct constitutes an infringement of the rights of consumers.

“We would also like to appeal to all consumers to be alert and vigilant by always verifying if the products listed on the receipt correspond with the products they have purchased,” she said.

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