‘Little mistakes’: Danish supermarkets overstep fixed prices by fractions of a krone

Fish, fruit bars and cheese were among products affected as Danish supermarkets Føtex and Bilka set prices marginally above previously-promised limits, according to a report. 

'Little mistakes': Danish supermarkets overstep fixed prices by fractions of a krone
Salling, which owns the Bilka and Føtex supermarket chains, said it will pay back any losses to customers after an 'error' caused prices on a small number of items to be set marginally above previously fixed amounts. File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The Salling company, which owns three supermarket chains in Denmark including Føtex and Bilka, earlier this year placed temporary limits on the price of selected products, in response to inflation.

But a number of the products have since been sold for more than the fixed prices, broadcaster DR reported.

A review of prices conducted by DR, using data from the Beepr price checking tool, showed that not all of Salling’s prices were in line with the limits previously promised by the company.

Specifically, four products were found to be priced over the promised limits. 

The four products in question according to DR are a picture frame; a spreadable cheese from the P. Rondele brand; a 600g fish fillet in breadcrumbs, and Salling organic branded fruit bars. None of the products are priced at more than 10 øre (a tenth of a krone) above the advertised limit.

Around 200 different products at Bilka and Føtex were initially included in the price limit pledge. Additional products have since been added, bringing the total to 340-360 products according to Salling.

Salling director of communication Henrik Vinther Olesen said he “hoped for forgiveness” in comments to DR.

The company initially explained to DR that the higher prices were a result of special offers.

Products that had been on offer could see prices increase once the offer ended, despite having a limit placed on them.

But this was not found to be the case for two of the products in question, DR writes. Additionally, Salling said it had found two other products which had increased in price despite the prices ostensibly having been fixed.

“An error has occurred here when the prices should have been fixed,” Olesen told DR, noting that two of the products mentioned by the broadcaster had been “entered incorrectly”.

Although the amounts involved are small, he said that “if anyone has purchased large amounts of this so it can be rounded up and refunded, we will do it”.

“It’s not our intention that anyone should feel cheated. They should feel secure. So I also hope that people understand that these 5 or 10 øre [fixed price oversteps, ed.] are little mistakes that we have corrected,” he also said to DR.

Denmark is currently seeing a general trend of increasing prices at grocery stores as the country experiences record inflation.

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Danish government returns debt payments from 138,000 people 

Around 138,000 people in Denmark have been unable to repay debts to the Danish state in 2022 after money they paid was refunded.

Danish government returns debt payments from 138,000 people 

From January to October 2022, 138,000 people in Denmark trying to square their debts with the government were refused due to confusion about whether the Danish Debt Collection Agency (Gældsstyrelsen) actually has the right to receive it, newspaper Berlingske reports.

Having a debt to the Danish public sector on your books can have serious financial consequences, including jeopardizing your eligibility to secure a mortgage.

Data from the Debt Collection Agency indicate the number of debts considered “not ready for recovery” has increased by 1.5 million this year. Half of those debts are connected to the Danish Tax Authority (Skattestyrelsen). 

In total, the 138,000 people were refunded 121 million kroner, including 17 million kroner in unpaid interest. That works out at an average refund of 750 kroner per person.

Based on the scale of the problem, the government will have to consider cancelling some of the debts, Peter Bjerre Mortensen, professor of public administration at Aarhus University, tells Berlingske. 

“They need to swallow some very big camels and/or simplify some legislation or forgive some debts, because right now it seems that things are still going the wrong way with regard to collecting public debt,” Mortensen said. 

The issues with ‘unpayable’ debts first arose in 2015 when EFI, the IT system Skat used to collect debt, was shuttered, according to Berlingske.

Debts to the Danish state have been growing since then. The parliamentary ombudsman said earlier this week that he would try to find out why individuals have been unable to repay debts.

“The ombudsman has received complaints from several members of the public and there have been articles in the media about people who could not repay their debt to the state,” wrote the ombudsman, Niels Fenger.

Tax minister Jeppe Bruus has previously recognised the issue with the repayment system.

“This is a huge challenge and something that must be worked on and improved,” he told newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September.

READ MORE: ‘Topskat’: What is Denmark’s high income tax bracket?