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By Jarryd Westerdale

Digital Journalist

Makro pricing error: Massmart says no ‘reduced’ products will be delivered to customers

Many cut-price items were available on the retailer's sales platforms, prompting shoppers to place orders en masse.

Online shoppers thought they had hit the mid-year jackpot while on the Makro website this past weekend.

Prices on the website of one of South Africa’s largest big-box retailers were unexpectedly slashed, which left some debating the responsibilities of online retailers.

Makro’s unintentional bargains

The most talked about bargain of the weekend was a high-end laptop valued at R16 000 being priced at just R55.

Likewise, a luxury coffee machine valued at more than R10 000 was being snapped up for less that R100.

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Many shoppers are believed to have taken advantage of the unintentional specials, but Makro’s parent company Massmart have confirmed that none of those items will reach their customers.

Brian Leroni, Massmart’s Senior Vice President Group Corporate Affairs, told The Citizen that the mistaken discounts were the result of a “technical issue”.

“On the evening of 25 May 2024, we identified a technical issue affecting pricing on our [Makro] websites and the Makro shopping app.

“The pricing error was entirely unintentional and obvious. We have subsequently apologised most sincerely to affected customers and Marketplace sellers, who have also been notified that the impacted portion of their orders will unfortunately not be fulfilled.”

Leroni said Makro’s customers have been told that their discounted orders will not be delivered.

“This decision, which was not taken lightly, is supported by Section 23(9) of the Consumer Protection Act which covers obvious and unintentional pricing errors.

“We are sincerely sorry that this situation has occurred and are working hard to identify and learn from the underlying causes to avoid similar future incidents,” said Leroni.

Consumer Protection Act

As the name suggests, the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) outlines the rights and recourse available to to any consumer.

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Section 23 of the Act states that consumers have the right to the fair pricing the goods and services.

In an instance where a product has a conflicting price or two prices advertised for the same product, the CPA states that suppliers may not charge the higher of the two advertised prices.

Crucially for Massmart, Section 23 has exclusion for obvious errors, and states, “The supplier is not bound by [the CPA] after— (a) correcting the error in the displayed price; and (b) taking reasonable steps in the circumstances to inform consumers…”