The requirement of showing the prices in two currencies arises from the regulation of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Showing euro prices next to the prices in kroons gives essential information both to the consumers and traders by helping them to prepare for and get used to the settlement in euro money, which will enter into force on 1 January. Showing the euro prices is as important as calculating them correctly – by taking into account the official exchange rate of the Bank of Estonia and the right rounding off rule (i.e. the price is rounded off with the accuracy of one cent up to the third digit after coma).
General Manager of the Consumer Protection Board, Andres Sooniste says, “The Consumer Protection Board disapproves of the attitude of some companies, which questions the consumer rights to see euro prices (with the right exchange rate) next to the prices in kroons. Any kind of deviation from the right exchange rate is ignoring the obligatory regulation. Only the consumer has the right to decide whether the euro price and its correct presentation is necessary for him/ her.”
Showing the euro exchange rate smaller is just a marketing trick as until 31 December 2010, the only legal currency in Estonia is kroon. If for some reason selling is also performed in euros, the entrepreneur should explain it to the customer why in this case the price offered by him in kroons is higher than the euro price.
By today, the Consumer Protection Board has inspected meeting the requirement of showing the prices in two currencies during three months. If during the first month, the percentage of violations was 47, then after three months the number of violations has decreased and is now 28%. Thus, we can speak of the gradual improvement of the situation.
Showing the euro prices next to the prices in kroons was inspected 1196 times in September, in case of 35 times, the inspection was carried out by Tallinn City Government. Companies with the problems of violation were discovered in 372 cases (28%). It appeared that the most common type of violation is still partial or complete absence of the euro price – in 158 times. In September, there was the same amount of those who had made a mistake in using the rounding off rule. The wrong currency exchange had been used in 56 cases.
The above-mentioned number of inspections included 264 follow-up inspections, during which 25 violations were discovered (9%).108 fines were imposed due to violations in the total amount of 68,040 EEK.
During the whole period, the Board has inspected ca 2653 companies. As to violations, the greatest problem is not keeping to the rules of rounding off. The second place is occupied by the partial or complete absence of euro prices and the third is occupied by using the wrong currency exchange rate. Fines have been imposed in the amount of ca 122,100 EEK.
According to the work schedule and cooperation request achieved with the consumer organisations, agreements were concluded with 7 non-state consumer associations in August to perform the inspection of showing the prices in two currencies. During 13 - 19 September, members of the consumer associations inspected the shops and service and catering companies in the rural municipalities, they inspected whether the prices were shown in two currencies and if they were correct.
All together 604 companies were inspected by the members of the consumer associations in 8 counties and violations were discovered in 153 cases. The discovered errors in prices were insignificant and were not related to deliberate misleading action but had rather occurred due to inadequate knowledge of the rounding off rules or accidental minor errors. In conclusion, we can claim that small shops in the country as well as other cooperative shops are aware of the obligation to show the prices in two currencies and they precisely meet the requirements.
Consumer Protection Board
Head of Consumer Policy and Public Relations Department
+ 372 53 308 076